Biodiversity & Ecosystem Management Headlines

Benefits of Integrated Ocean Governance Highlighted By Tonga, Kiribati and Fiji

Fiji, Tonga and Kiribati shared their experiences on ocean governance processes during the Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Management (MACBIO) side event held at the 28th Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) meeting.

The MACBIO project commenced in 2013 and is implemented within five Pacific Island countries (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tonga. The project aims to support and strengthen national effortsonbiodiversity conservation in marine and coastal areas. It is funded by Germany's Ministry of Environment under its International Climate Initiative.

Pacific Island countries are increasingly integrating effortsamong national ministries to sustainably manage a wide range of marine assets and resources. The speakers recognised the comparatively high values of previously unrecognized marine ecosystem services, provided by coral reefs, mangroves and other marine ecosystems, which in some Pacific Island Countries, exceed the annual value of national exports.

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Mr Joshua Wycliffe, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Fiji, during his presentation. Photo: SPREP

Mr. Joshua Wycliffe, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment in Fiji, underlined the importance of healthy coastal habitats for the development of sustainable marine ecotourism that provides more than FJD $1 billion per year to Fiji's economy.

In combination with values linked to coastal protection from erosion, commercial, subsistence and artisanal fishing, as well as the absorption of carbon dioxide by seagrass and mangrove areas,the assessed marine ecosystem services and values amount in the case of Fiji to more than FJD $2.5 billion per year.

"It is vital to recognise the importance ofthese ecosystemservices and toensure that the diverse values and benefits they provide are maximized and sustained through integrated management, rather than risking losses caused by degradation of these precious ecosystems through competing resource uses," said Ms. Taouea Reiher, Deputy Director of Environment in Kiribati.

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Ms Taohuea Reiher, Deputy Director of Environment for Kiribati. Photo: SPREP

In many cases a growing recognition of these values has become the basis for inter-sectoral marine spatial planningefforts and ocean governance arrangements such as the development of Vanuatu's national ocean policy in 2017.

"Terrestrial and marine spatial planning are key efforts to guide and inform decision-making processes during the implementation of national development policies and plans in Tonga," said Mr. Paula Ma'u, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Environment in Tonga.

Representatives from the MACBIO implementing partner agencies SPREP, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as well as the Pacific Forum Secretariat underlined the importance of strong and lasting partnerships among technical and regional organisations to jointly assist countries in the implementation of the Pacific Oceanscape Framework, and to meet their commitments to Aichi targets and Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 14.
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