The 28th Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P) Meeting of Officials is underway in Apia with special significance.
Opened last night, the Acting Prime Minister, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, welcomed the members of the governing council of S.P.R.E.P who are here to discuss strategic issues and to approve the 2018-19 work plan for the organisation.
Held at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, S.P.R.E.P Director, Leota Kosi Latu, said the meeting would look into the challenges of climate change, which are vast and growing in the region.
The meeting is also of nostalgic significance. It is the last annual meeting for S.P.R.E.P, which will meet every two years from now onwards. The next meeting is scheduled for Samoa in 2019.
“These measures as guided and adopted by our Members ensures that S.P.R.E.P remains a robust, agile and responsive organisation focused on efficient and effective service delivery with impact on the ground in our 21 Pacific island country and territory,” he said.
“Members – ensuring we deliver on our mandate, our purpose - ‘To promote cooperation in the Pacific region, provide assistance in order to protect and improve its environment, and to ensure sustainable development for present and future generations’.”
He said that in achieving this they must focus efforts in strengthening the work they do to ensure S.P.R.E.P is able to mobilise, allocate and direct technical and financial resources to make a difference where it is relevant and has greatest impact.
“Our new Strategic Plan 2017-2026 approved by our Members in Niue last year, articulates a vision that ensures ‘A resilient Pacific environment sustaining our livelihoods and natural heritage in harmony with our cultures’.
“Our mandate, our vision and our values as the premier regional organisation for the environment - ensures that S.P.R.E.P works in partnership with all of our Members and development partners – to address the pressing challenges in our region.
“Our strategic priorities of Climate Change Resilience; Ecosystem and Biodiversity Protection; Waste Management and Pollution Control; and Environmental Monitoring and Governance are all environmental challenges for our Pacific region which have a direct impact on our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development and Goals for present and future generations.”
Leota pointed out their new Strategic Plan recognises these challenges as articulated on the global and regional stage by our Pacific Leaders, where climate change is our principal concern and oceans as a cross cutting theme across all of the work we do.
“S.P.R.E.P serves ‘Large Ocean Island States’ where our Pacific region is 98% ocean and the very real impacts of climate change which we are already experiencing, challenges our collective stewardship of our Blue Continent.
“Our message to COP23 is one of survival, for our Pacific people, and because of the immense role the Pacific Ocean plays in global climate, for all peoples.”
Leota added: “The challenges of climate change are vast and growing in our Pacific region, as are the demands on the work and role of S.P.R.E.P.”
(Read Leota’s address in full in tomorrow’s Samoa Observer)