30 April 2020, Apia, Samoa – We all depend on our unique Pacific biodiversity. Nature surrounds us, but natural Pacific species and spaces need our help, according to a new assessment released by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
The State of Environment and Conservation in the Pacific Islands: 2020 Regional Report (SOEC)reflects an assessment of 31 conservation and environment indicators. Pacific Leaders endorsed the selected indicators and co-designed them to meet Pacific priorities for nature management.
The report outlines the critical connections between society’s actions and the services we receive from nature. For example, an indicator on renewable energy demonstrates the commitments of Pacific Leaders to increasing energy independence through the use of renewable resources to create electricity, with positive effects for Pacific ecosystems and the global fight against climate change.
The report uses country-endorsed data and information and draws on input from countries and regional technical experts across many fields, including members of the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation. The SOEC indicators are aligned with existing global and regional goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, to serve Pacific decision-makers.
During an online panel session yesterday, the State of Environment and Conservation website was officially launched, making the information on environment and conservation in the Pacific more accessible to anyone in the region and around the world.
Director General of SPREP, Mr Kosi Latu, said, “We are certainly very pleased that, following on from the launch of the report itself, that we can make sure that this information is made available and is communicated to as many people as possible.”
Mr Latu emphasised the importance of communicating and planning across all sectors as we are all working towards shared goals, and the importance of this work being supported by a shared understanding of the status and trends on the values of nature and natural ecosystems, and he hoped that the website would go a long way in achieving that purpose.
According to Ms. Amanda Wheatley, SPREP’s Biodiversity Adviser, the report was designed to either be a big thick report, or it can be used as 31 standalone indicators, which are four to six pagefactsheets that you can just grab for the areas that one is interested in.
“We’ve also presented the key information and messages as an interactive succinct summary on our new State of Environment and Conservation website, which is a fantastic freely-available tool that is now available to everyone,” Ms Wheatley added.
Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, Head of the UNEP Pacific Office expressed how pleased he was to see the launch of the SOEC website, as someone who has been working in data and environment in the Pacific since the early 1990s.
“This is a format that is not only interactive, it is a format that’s easily accessible, and a format that meets many needs,” said Mr Nawadra.
“The purpose of collecting data is multiple – planning, monitoring, advocacy, information and education. It’s important to keep those in mind when we do the collection of data. One of the main issues we face is accessibility – making it accessible to those who need it.”
“The important aspect is to make the data available at the time that it is needed,” added Mr Nawadra.
“Sometimes when we rely on reports, that information gets to us too late, especially when you’re involved in negotiations at Conferences of the Parties (COPs). I think that’s why this format is really good, because the data is available to those who need it when they need it. They will have easy access to the information.”
Ms Juney Ward, Ecosystem and Biodiversity Officer at SPREP, echoed Mr Nawadra’s statement on the advantage of having easily accessible data, especially for Pacific negotiators when they attend COPs.
“At these meetings for important Conventions, and during negotiations, it is important that delegates have an understanding of the key priority issues that they will be negotiating and making interventions for,” said Ms Ward.
“Having access to key facts, figures, case studies and examples either from a regional or national perspective as shown in the SOEC report to facilitate with these negotiations is important.”
“Having the SOEC available on the website is valuable because during discussions you can easily reference your source of information or quickly pull some text to develop your interventions by navigating through the different indicators and grabbing those information which is easily available and accessible online,” she added.
Providing a perspective from Pacific islands media was Ms Makereta Komai, Manager and Editor of the Pacific Islands News Association and PACNEWS Regional Agency.
According to Ms Komai, environment data is an important tool and source of information for journalists, which they can use as a starting point to write their stories. Journalists analyse and interpret data almost on a daily basis to try and tell a unique and relatable story, so analysing and interpreting data is now considered a new way of telling a story in this digital age.
“The website provides a wealth of data and knowledge resource materials that journalists can use in their stories. After looking at the website, I highly recommend this as a tool and resource for journalists, not only in the Pacific but around the world, that are interested in looking for scientific data and resources on environment and conservation in the Pacific,” she said.
Mr Tavita Su’a, Environmental Information Systems Developer and Analyst, said, “Data by itself is not enough. We need to connect for the best way to understand, use, learn and grow using data-based management.”
“There is a need in the Pacific for our media organisations to incorporate environment data in our stories, to engage our public through the use of infographics and interpreted statistics to tell the story, and better illustrate the state of the environment and conservation. To help address that need, the information and data graphics from the SOEC 2020 are all freely available to use, re-use, and share,” Mr Su’a concluded.
Users can explore the full SOEC report online, download thematic summaries or data graphics and more on the newly launched website. The status, trends at the time, and state of knowledge about Pacific wildlife and natural resources are summarised across seven themes. Within each theme, you can download the indicator summaries.
The website also has a Resources section, where users can download media tools and presentation-ready graphics which are all freely available for download. It also enables users to join the conversation and hear from other Pacific experts on the website.
The State of Environment and Conservation in the Pacific Islands: 2020 Regional Report and its interactive website are available at https://soec.sprep.org
For more information, please contact Mr Paul Anderson, Inform Project Manager, at [email protected].