Acting Prime Minister Tialavea Fea Hunt has reminded about the importance of the protection of the precious Blue Pacific Ocean.
Tialavea made the point when he opened the 28th S.P.R.E.P. Meeting in Samoa this week.
The meeting marks a new era for the premiere regional environment organisation and its Members.
This is the first S.P.R.E.P. Meeting to be held under the new Strategic Plan 2017 – 2026, and the last annual meeting as the S.P.R.E.P. Meeting transitions to a biannual event.
S.P.R.E.P’s key focus areas in the decade to come are Climate Change Resilience, Ecosystem and Biodiversity Protection, Waste Management and Pollution Control and Environmental Monitoring and Governance, with Resilience and our Ocean as overarching themes.
These are extensions of the work done in the Pacific region with S.P.R.E.P. Members since its birth.
“The Blue Pacific – Our Sea of Islands in a Blue Continent. This envisages the Blue Pacific as one continent with the Pacific people as custodians of the natural resources of the Pacific Ocean,” said Tialavea.
“The concept of the Blue Pacific also enables us to achieve our collective security through Sustainable Development, Management and Conservation.”
‘”The adoption of this theme will strengthen and give renewed impetus to a growing Pacific Regionalism.”
“It is a tangible reflection of the strong relationship that has been built over the years between S.P.R.E.P. and its Members, and in particular the Government of Samoa.”
A vision to come into fruition under the new S.P.R.E.P. Strategic Plan is the opening of the Pacific Climate Change Centre, funded by the government of Japan, in 2019.
The construction will begin next year.
“The government of Samoa is pleased to note the Pacific Climate Change Centre built in Samoa,” said the Acting Prime Minister.
“It is notable that in its recent Strategic Plan, S.P.R.E.P. identified climate change and oceans as its two most important cross-cutting themes.”
It is abundantly clear that the Pacific is now a leading global voice on both of these issues.”
Since Monday, S.P.R.E.P. and its Members are convening to discuss key issues for the region, as well as the governance of the organisation. The Pacific Climate Change Centre is a highlighted feature in the days ahead.
“The Pacific Climate Change Centre is a journey led by our Members that was first discussed at the Twenty-First S.P.R.E.P. Meeting in 2011,” said Leota Kosi Latu, Director General of S.P.R.E.P.
“It will be a regional resource and a centre of excellence for climate action and a tool for implementation.”
The Acting Prime Minister highlighted the linkages between the Blue Pacific and the voluntary commitments at the United Nations Ocean conference mentioning that “we should not be afraid to be held accountable for our commitments.”
“Samoa will ensure the protection of many marine species through the establishment of a sanctuary for sharks as well as proposing the listing of blue sharks, which constitute some 40% of the global trade in shark fins, on Appendix II of the Convention for Migratory Species at its Conference of Parties in Manila next month.”
The 21 Pacific island countries and territories that are members of S.P.R.E.P. are: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.
The five Metropolitan members of S.P.R.E.P. are: Australia, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States of America.