Meeting to achieve cleaner Pacific underway

A virtual conference on the Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific (S.W.A.P.) Project, which will help achieve a cleaner Pacific, is currently underway.

The project – which is funded by the Agence Française de Développement (A.F.D.) and is implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.) – is one of several projects underway across the region to help achieve the regional goals set out in the Cleaner Pacific 2025: Pacific Regional Waste and Pollution Management Strategy.

Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna will be part of the S.W.A.P. project, according to a statement released by the Apia-based S.P.R.E.P.

S.P.R.E.P. Acting Director (Waste Management and Pollution Control Programme), Anthony Talouli, stated in his opening remarks that they are very grateful to the A.F.D. for their support in helping make this happen.

“Our waste problem across our region continues to grow, we need to have concerted efforts for a Cleaner Pacific and this S.W.A.P. project is just one of the many initiatives to make it happen,” he said.

The Public Sector/Pacific Regional Cooperation Manager, Nolwenn Bodo, gave an overview of the support A.F.D. is providing to the Pacific Region in a number of sectors.

She said that it was in 2017 when S.P.R.E.P. approached the A.F.D. to consider continuing its support to deliver its mandate on waste and pollution management, being the lead agency to assist the Pacific address growing waste and pollution issues.

From this, a concept proposal was submitted building upon previous work with S.P.R.E.P. which received a satisfactory rating. The proposal was initially considered, and a feasibility study was done to confirm the priority themes proposed by the S.P.R.E.P.

According to the S.P.R.E.P. statement, through the feasibility study, A.F.D. and S.P.R.E.P. were able to identify and agree upon specific activities to carry out in specific countries through the S.W.A.P.

This led to the signing of the funding agreement for S.W.A.P. in February this year for €3 million with the opportunity to upgrade it to €5 million.

Ms Bodo She stated that through this initiative, it is hoped that the Pacific Ocean as a world heritage region, will be preserved with its outstanding land and marine biodiversity that affords priceless service to communities.

She further stated that this was done in recognition of the fact that the Pacific region is located in one of the world’s most climate change vulnerable regions, with very little resources to take up this challenge, even though their traditional lifestyles depend on it.

“Our commitment to S.P.R.E.P. on the waste theme and the support to the waste sector in the Pacific dates back to a decade ago, when we first partnered with S.P.R.E.P. and A.F.D. believes that there is still so much to be done to improve waste and pollution management in the region,” she said. 

“It is our hope that this partnership with you all will come into fruition and will foster greater ties between the Pacific Island countries and the overseas territories.”

The virtual conference will continue from 11–17 December where participants will hear more on S.W.A.P. specific project activities and potentially come up with a draft work plan for 2021 and forecast over the remaining years of the project.

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