With the aim to strengthen the management and governance of protected areas in the Pacific region, close to one hundred participants from governments, N.G.O. stakeholders and partners convened in Apia, Samoa on 11 June, 2018 for the inception workshop of the second phase of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (B.I.O.P.A.M.A.) programme.
In welcoming the participants, Taefu Lemi Taefu, Associate Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Government of Samoa acknowledged the significance of protected areas.
“The protected areas that exist today were established to protect the best remaining natural terrestrial, coastal and marine areas in our region. This is to ensure sustainability of these areas for the benefit of not only our generation but for many generations to come.”
In his opening remarks, Taefu also highlighted some of the challenges that were faced by Pacific island countries.
“One of the region’s major challenges to sustainable development, especially for small island developing states is the lack of data and information. The issue for Samoa is not the accessibility of data, but rather, the availability of data. This week is a kind reminder of what needs to be done” Hon. Minister Taefu continued.
The B.I.O.P.A.M.A. programme is an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (A.C.P.) Group of States financed by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund, jointly implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (E.C.-J.R.C.). In the Pacific region, B.I.O.P.A.M.A. is implemented by I.U.C.N’s Oceania Regional Office (I.U.C.N. O.R.O.) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.).
The partnership between I.U.C.N. O.R.O. and S.P.R.E.P. has seen the enhancement of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (P.I.P.A.P.), the ‘one-stop shop’ for all information on Protected Areas maintained by S.P.R.E.P. with partners and Members.
Through B.I.O.P.A.M.A., the E.C.-J.R.C. is also contributing essential technical support to the P.I.P.A.P. “The P.I.P.A.P, established prior to but then supported and strengthened by B.I.O.P.A.M.A., will play a key role as an interactive repository of data and learning tools for protected areas planning and management. It will continue to help measure our progress towards meeting Aichi Target 11 on protected area commitments”, Acting Director General of S.P.R.E.P. Stuart Chape commented.
“In forging ahead, we need to pause and remind ourselves of the unique context of protected areas in the Oceania region that requires a high level of consultation and innovative solutions and approaches,” I.U.C.N. O.R.O. Regional Director Mason Smith emphasised.
A.C.P. representative Edmund Jackson, in his address also reiterated the importance of partnership. “Essentially, each agency is a particular piece of the puzzle and the workshop will see where each of you will fit to help implement the BIOPAMA programme as best as possible. The implementing partners must ensure that everybody has a role to play,” Mr. Jackson noted.
Recognising the significance of the five-day workshop, EC-JRC’s Stephen Peedell highlighted how the workshop would be a great opportunity to address the fundamental questions faced by the B.I.O.P.A.M.A. programme. “How can we ensure that our improved knowledge of protected areas really does drive better decisions, better outcomes and improved effectiveness?”
“How can we make that step from knowledge to action for a protected planet?” Mr. Peedell concluded.