Biodiversity & Ecosystem Management Headlines

Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation to help countries to implement Voluntary Commitments made at the United Nations Ocean Conference

22 August 2017, Honiara, Solomon Islands - The theme of this year's Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT) meeting was "Oceans at a tipping point – From global commitments to regional action". The meeting considered the voluntary commitments made by countries at the United Nations Ocean Conference (UNOC), held in New York in June this year, where leaders from around the world met to discuss Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources".

PIRT is a coordinating mechanism for Pacific nature conservation and protected areas. By joining forces to conserve ocean ecosystems, PIRT members can assist countries to meet their goals for ocean management.

                    PIRT3
Left to right: Director General of SPREP – Mr. Kosi Latu; Solomon Islands Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Hon. Manetoali; Dr Melchior Mataki, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology Solomon Islands; Regional Director of IUCN Oceania – Mr. Mason Smith.

"The Pacific Islands played a leading role at UNOC, and we must seize this opportunity to continue leading and inspiring the world," said Ms. Azusa Kubota, UNDP Country Manager in Solomon Islands.

"I don't need to convince you about the importance of the ocean to our livelihoods and everything we do. SDG 14 is absolutely essential to all development in the Pacific context and it links to all SDGs."

Over 1300 voluntary commitments were made at UNOC, many of them by Pacific island countries, organisations and the private sector. The PIRT meeting focused on 65 commitments made by Pacific Island countries, and in particular the 26 commitments that currently have no PIRT partners. Participants discussed how PIRT members can support countries to implement their commitments.

"We have to initiate action to implement the commitments that were made at the United Nations Ocean Conference and we see it as crucial to identify where Pacific countries need help and how we can assist," said Mr. Mason Smith, Chair of PIRT.

"We have developed a list of actions to demonstrate how PIRT members can assist countries now or in the future, and we will aim to review this list in 12 months at the next PIRT Annual Meeting."

Dr. Melchior Mataki, incoming Permanent Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, focused his key note address on SDG 14, and the necessity for community engagement.

"Pacific people are stewards of the largest ocean with a right to sustainably and equitably benefit from its resources and amenities" he said. He stressed that "conservation without development is sterile, and likewise development without conservation is unsustainable. Countries and communities of this region will need to make informed decisions and choices. Integration, interconnectivity, collaboration and partnerships are foundational to bring success in addressing environmental and development issues."

Participants noted that the Pacific Islands currently have an unprecedented influence on Oceans and Climate Change because Fiji is co-chair of both United Nations Ocean Conference and the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference of Parties 23, which will be held in Bonn, Germany this year in November.

More information about ocean management can be accessed through the briefs developed by UN Environment and SPREP: bit.ly/2rwYGKY

The Pacific Islands Round Table for Nature Conservation (PIRT) is a coalition of nature conservation and development organisations, governments, inter-governmental agencies, donor agencies and community groups created to increase effective conservation action in the Pacific Islands Region. PIRT is the key coordination mechanism for the implementation of the new Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Islands region 2014–2020 which was adopted at the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas and was endorsed at the 25th Annual SPREP Meeting in September 2014. Currently, IUCN is the Chair and SPREP is the Secretariat of PIRT.
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