The first Clean Pacific Roundtable opened yesterday marked a historical occasion for the Pacific region.
The meeting in Suva is being attended by national representatives – including government officials from Samoa - donors, partners and other key stakeholders involved in waste management and pollution control in Pacific island countries and territories.
The Roundtable is coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P) with generous support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (J.I.C.A) and the European Union.
The Roundtable was officially opened by Joshua Wycliffe, Permanent Secretary, Fiji’s Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Environment who noted the importance of the event to all Pacific island countries and territories.
“Waste and Pollution Management is an issue for all in the Pacific region and likewise for Fiji,” he said.
“Improper waste management and inadequate pollution control measures can further exacerbate threats to climate change, impact sustainable development, muddle disaster risk reduction efforts, affect tourism, and worryingly affect our marine resources – the only source of proteins for many low lying Pacific Island nations.”
In his welcoming remarks, S.P.R.E.P’s Director General, Leota Kosi Latu, encouraged delegates to take full advantage of the dialogue and networking opportunities that the meeting offers.
“The Roundtable is a forum to share experiences and to disseminate information. We want to hear from you, not just about the challenges, but about the innovative solutions that you have had to adopt to address these challenges.
We also want to make sure that whatever we do is aligned completely with the priorities of our member countries.”
The Roundtable is an important mechanism for the implementation of the Pacific Regional Waste Management and Pollution Control Strategy 2016-2025 – known as Cleaner Pacific 2025 – which was adopted by the Twenty-sixth S.P.R.E.P Meeting of Officials in September 2015.
Shiro Amano, former Chief Advisor of the J.I.C.A-funded Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management in Pacific Island Countries (J-P.R.I.S.M) project, explains that the Roundtable is one of the mechanisms through which the Cleaner Pacific 2025 Strategy will be brought into action.
“We were proud to work with the Pacific island region and partners to develop this new strategy that will guide work on waste management and pollution control through to 2025, we look forward to seeing the impact of this strategy, from the viewpoint of sustainability, which as we know, will rely on the implementation and support by people and partnerships to make a difference.”
Head of Cooperation at the European Union Delegation for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner said:
“The European Union remains committed and will continue to support Pacific countries to implement Cleaner Pacific 2025.
We view this Clean Pacific Roundtable as an essential platform that consolidates and further strengthens collaboration and coordination between countries and various partners supporting achieving a cleaner Pacific.” The inaugural Clean Pacific Roundtable is being held at the Holiday Inn.