Nature Conservation conference goes virtual

The previously postponed 10th Pacific Island Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas will this year be held as a virtual gathering from 23-27 November.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.) announced the measures in response to restrictions associated with the global coronavirus pandemic. 

The conference is a significant nature conservation event for the Pacific islands region.  

It is organised every five to six years by S.P.R.E.P. and Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (P.I.R.T.). 

An estimated 600 to 800 biodiversity and nature conservation stakeholders are expected to participate in November’s virtual meeting.

According to the statement, the conference, which was originally scheduled to take place on 19–24 April this year in Noumea, New Caledonia, was postponed in early March as a result of the pandemic.

The Biodiversity Adviser at S.P.R.E.P., Amanda Wheatley, said that the health and safety of all participants were the most important factors guiding the organisation’s decision-making.

She said they resolved for the event to happen but in a manner that allowed them to protect participants and the host country from the ongoing risk posed by COVID-19.

“Given that much commitment, funds and effort has been invested into the postponed event by all the conference organisers and regional partners, and the important role this event plays in setting a Pacific initiated agenda for mounting conservation priorities into the future, we decided the event should happen” said Ms. Wheatly.

During a P.I.R.T. meeting held last week to update members and partners, the Director-General of S.P.R.E.P., Leota Kosi Latu, said that hosting the conference virtually was in everyone’s best interests.

Event organisers and partners will work together and mobilise resources to ensure that the conference is successful.

“I have faith in our partners and our team that the virtual 10th Pacific Islands Nature Conservation Conference will be a big success,” he said.

Leota noted that the more than 800 people attending the conference included those who now had a potential to attend a conference that they previously did not due to prohibitive travel costs. 

Leota added that the organisers wanted to ensure the conference provides a meaningful platform for some of the greatest minds in the region to discuss collective conservation efforts, particularly in the time of the current COVID-19 crisis.

Information about the virtual conference, including opportunities for existing speakers and conveners, as well as virtual exhibitions and side events, will be provided in due course. 

Registered participants and sponsors will be contacted about the changes. 

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