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Environment must be central to coronavirus recovery: S.P.R.E.P.

As Pacific islands seek to revive their economies, they should also confront the pandemic's environmental impacts and strengthen environmental protections, the region's intergovernmental environment agency says.  

The opportunities for reforming national environmental protections were emphasised in a statement revealed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.) on Friday. 

The Director-General of S.P.R.E.P., Leota Kosi Latu, said that the Pacific islands must have a “green or blue” component in their post-COVID-19 recovery plans.

“If we fail to get this right, our economic legacy will only be short-term and we run the risk of finding ourselves where we are right now,” he said.

Leota added that economic success and a resilient Pacific can be achieved if the region takes a new strategic direction. 

“We cannot go back to business as usual as we rebuild,” he said. 

“What happens when the world starts to build back and the economic recovery plans are focused solely on doing more, faster to make up for financial losses and lost time while our plane was in pause.

“Science shows this is not good for all of us.”

While the world economy has ground to a stop due to COVID-19 preventative measures, global greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution have reduced significantly, albeit temporarily. 

The United Nations Environment Programme quotes data recorded in China from January to March this year which reveals 337 cities having an over 80 per cent increase in days with good air quality, according to satellite monitoring. 

Over 95 per cent of all world destinations have travel restrictions that are yet to be lifted, the Programme said and, as a result, Pacific tourism has been hit by huge financial losses. This has also had an impact on environmental sustainability programmes dependent upon tourism.  

Eco-tour operators are now relying upon domestic travellers for income, and there are concerns that job losses across the region are placing more pressures on coastal fisheries as families turn to fishing for food security.

As the Pacific begins rebuilding their economies S.P.R.E.P. says the Pacific must protect its environment. 

“This means that Governments must include a green recovery component in our economic stimulus support packages,” Leota said.

“We must go beyond building back to what we had; we must build a ‘Bluer Pacific’ for our people.  

“A strong, sustainable environment will lead to a more resilient Pacific. We can’t forget the role a healthy environment plays in all aspects of our Pacific lives.”

He also stressed environmental improvements will make the region more resilient to future disasters. 

Without proper environmental consideration, Pacific tourism remains under threat from damage to coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and coastal wetlands, the Programme said in its statement.

The programme is calling for all development to prize long-term gains.

Environmental policy and regulations will be the key to maintaining the environmental sustainability of Pacific economies and ensuring industries such as logging and mining are performed sustainably.




The potential diplomatic strategy was unveiled in a statement revealed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.) on Friday. 

The Director-General of S.P.R.E.P., Leota Kosi Latu, said that the Pacific islands must have a “green or blue” component in their post-COVID-19 recovery plans.

“If we fail to get this right, our economic legacy will only be short-term and we run the risk of finding ourselves where we are right now,” he said.

Leota added that economic success and a resilient Pacific can be achieved if the region takes a new strategic direction. 

“We cannot go back to business as usual as we rebuild,” he said. 

“What happens when the world starts to build back and the economic recovery plans are focused solely on doing more, faster to make up for financial losses and lost time while our plane was in pause.

“Science shows this is not good for all of us.”

While the world economy has ground to a stop due to COVID-19 preventative measures, global greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution have reduced significantly, albeit temporarily. 

The United Nations Environment Programme quotes data recorded in China from January to March this year which reveals 337 cities having an over 80 per cent increase in days with good air quality, according to satellite monitoring. 

Over 95 per cent of all world destinations have travel restrictions that are yet to be lifted, the Programme said and, as a result, Pacific tourism has been hit by huge financial losses. This has also had an impact on environmental sustainability programmes dependent upon tourism.  

Eco-tour operators are now relying upon domestic travellers for income, and there are concerns that job losses across the region are placing more pressures on coastal fisheries as families turn to fishing for food security.

As the Pacific begins rebuilding their economies S.P.R.E.P. says the Pacific must protect its environment. 

“This means that Governments must include a green recovery component in our economic stimulus support packages,” Leota said.

“We must go beyond building back to what we had; we must build a ‘Bluer Pacific’ for our people.  

“A strong, sustainable environment will lead to a more resilient Pacific. We can’t forget the role a healthy environment plays in all aspects of our Pacific lives.”

He also stressed environmental improvements will make the region more resilient to future disasters. 

Without proper environmental consideration, Pacific tourism remains under threat from damage to coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and coastal wetlands, the Programme said in its statement.

The programme is calling for all development to prize long-term gains.

Environmental policy and regulations will be the key to maintaining the environmental sustainability of Pacific economies and ensuring industries such as logging and mining are performed sustainably.




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