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State of Environment and National Environment Management Strategy workshop held in Republic of Marshall Islands

The 2016 State of Environment (SOE) report workshop for the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) was held on October 17 and was well received by RMI officials and agency representatives.

Participating in the workshop were key government ministries and agencies including local mayors and local NGO representatives.

The workshop was facilitated by the Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC) along with a team from the Environmental Monitoring and Governance Division (EMG) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). The meeting was opened by the madam Chief Secretary, Justina Langidrik.

Ted Kiluwe of the Marshall Islands Mayors Association (MIMA) reported that the training and workshop were "very useful because the mayors constantly are developing and implementing projects, looking for projects proposals and most of these projects need to get information on the impacts of development and they can now use the SOE to scope the concept ideas."

"This SOE report will help guide MIMA with data, information and provide a jumping off point for proposals."

The main objectives of the workshop were to present the findings of the SOE report to the RMI stakeholders, verify the findings, and demonstrate how to utilise the SOE report to benefit RMI by reducing reporting burden and increasing the availability of environmental data and statistics.

The SOE report will significantly assist the RMI government in its reporting obligations at national, regional and international levels and also promote up to date planning and grant or funding proposals.

The 2016 SOE report serves as a baseline for data gathering which can be easily updated and used in developing sector reports and plans as well as the next SOE report.

Moriana Phillip Director of the RMI EPA said, "The National SOE report provides us with information about environmental conditions, about the trends and pressures we face - the last time an SOE was done was 1992 - so this one is a good baseline that has showed us the changes that have taken place in the environment and quality and quantity of environmental resources."

SAM 3259 editedParticipants of the RMI SOE and NEMS workshop. Photo: SPREP

"The SOE process is going to take place every 5 years and we look forward to the next one. The SOE identifies threats from climate change and the impacts these changes have had on the environment. The SOE will also help with reporting obligations under MEAs, like the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). EPA would like to thank SPREP for its support and hard work during this process."

The SOE is based on the DPSIR model which stands for Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact and Response. This takes into account social, political, economic and technological factors, as well as forces associated with the natural world e.g. climate variability.

The social, economic and environmental factors often overlap. Climate change is a good example, where a natural driver, climate, is linked to social drivers including economics, population growth and policy.

Such drivers result in pressures which bring about changes in the natural environment (and social and environmental impacts).

The current SOE has 7 themes with 25 indicators and is tailored to the Marshall Island's unique environment, culture and history. It is written in an intuitive style for ease of use.

Lani Milne, of the RMI EPA said, "The SOE will really be useful in terms of providing more organized information for project proposals, and some of the information gathered will serve as a baseline moving forward. For people like me who are new and need to catch up on where RMI is at with some key environmental indictors this is a great resource".

The workshop on the National Environment Management Strategy (NEMS) followed the SoE report workshop on 18 October 2016.

The NEMS workshop further addressed the response component of the DPSIR model of the SoE and how the responses are formulated into strategic actions.

The last RMI NEMS was developed in 1992 and after the SPREP/RMI meeting in 2015 to evaluate the 1992 NEMS, it was resolved that a new NEMS was to be developed from the action areas identified in each of the seven thematic areas of the new SoE.

The workshop on the 18th October covered the review of the draft NEMS prepared by the EMG Division's Planning Unit with representations from Government Ministries of the RMI Government.

The new NEMS sets strategic directions for RMI's OEPPC to address as action areas under the SoE and will assist with development of future project proposals which can be submitted to existing national, regional and global funding mechanisms.

The NEMS is also linked to the RMI National Strategic Plan and contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Indicators and also commitments under the SAMOA Pathway.

Ms Yetta Aliven of the Tourism Department stated "I came to the workshop not understanding the connection between the SOE report and NEMS, now I know the NEMS is the response to the SOE and it helps us to meet our commitments under multilateral environmental agreements".

The target by the EMG Division of SPREP after the NEMS review is to submit the final draft of the RMI NEMS 2017-2021 before end of first quarter 2017.

The mission was funded through the ACP/MEAs UNEP capacity building project with SPREP.
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