07 September 2023, Apia – The commitments of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to gender equity and social inclusion, (GESI) carried out by its Gender Equity, Inclusion and Mainstreaming (GEIM) group, were highlighted at a side event held during the final day of deliberations of the 31st SPREP Meeting of Officials in Apia.
The SPREP GEIM group is comprised of staff members from the various programmes and departments within the Secretariat, as well as members of the Senior Leadership Team, including the Deputy Director General, and Director of Human Resources.
SPREP Director General, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, set the scene for the discussions during the side event, stressing that SPREP is committed to amplifying the Pacific voice, whether for climate change, conservation of our unique biodiversity, and making sure Pacific peoples are not drowning under a sea of waste.
“That amplification of the Pacific voice also extends to gender, making sure that the parts of our community who are not well looked after are empowered and be part of the discussions,” he said.
“We have taken the steps to making sure that we have the policies in place to address gender and inclusion issues and making sure that we acknowledge the strong women and those who have disabilities and those who have a disadvantage in some way to not only come to work at SPREP but to excel in the work that they do. While we do not have all the answers yet, but we certainly continue to work towards making that happen.”
The GIEM group invited Mr Henry Tufa, Deputy Director of the Climate Change Division within the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology of the Solomon Islands to share some of his experiences from his country, especially in the field of climate change.
“The vulnerabilities to climate are location-specific and role-specific, but not gender-neutral,” Mr Tufa said.
Mr Tufa said that women and girls have very different experiences when it comes to climate change compared to men. This is mainly due to the roles that women play in their homes, tribes, and communities.
“Men are more involved in planning and implementation of those plans, while the responsibilities of women revolve more around climate-sensitive sectors such as food security, water security and health, to not only make a living but that to ensure that their families are sustained in the days ahead,” Mr Tufa added.
Gender mainstreaming in Solomon Islands has taken great strides as of recent, with many government ministries have developed GESI Action Plans. Non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations have also made considerable strides in this area.
“There cannot be a resilient community and there cannot be a resilient Pacific if our women are not involved,” he said in conclusion.
Ms. Ofa Kaisamy, Manager of the Pacific Climate Change Centre and also SPREP Gender Champion shared how the Centre is progressing and advancing gender equity and inclusion in its activities.
The Centre hosted a training course on GESI which was developed in partnership with Talanoa Consulting, and hosted various national dialogue on GESI such as the first High-Level National Dialogue on Human Rights for the Government of Samoa, as well as carrying out training on climate change for the Samoa Fa’afafine Association and Brown Girl Woke, a platform for young, Samoan girls.
The Centre also supported a dance academy for young girls and women by promoting gender and women empowerment through dance, encouraging a more non-traditional approach to empowering women and girls.
“All these activities link to the overall outcomes of not only the PCCC but of GEIM,” Ms Kaisamy said.
Ms Mathilde Kraft highlighted the progress made by SPREP over the years through work carried out by its projects and programmes, noting that some projects have developed Gender Equality Action Plans, such as the Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific project, the PacWastePlus programme, and the Vanuatu Climate Services and Information for Sustainable Development Project.
According to Ms Kraft, the Kiwa Initiative is committed to funding rights-based, gender responsive and socially inclusive nature-based solutions projects. As part of its technical assistance to Kiwa, SPREP is providing dedicated support to Nature-based solutions (NbS) practitioners and developing specific guidance tailored to the region on understanding the links with and the risks for Human Rights in NbS projects, and how to conduct a GEDSI analysis through a partnership with Talanoa Consulting and the Pacific Community.
"We are seeing great engagement and the Kiwa project beneficiaries are eager to learn and do more on these critical issues," Ms Kraft added.
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Katie Berryman commending SPREP for the establishment of GEIM and that Australia welcomes SPREP’s gender engagement through the work of the group.
“Having the GEIM in SPREP will enable partners to listen and learn about gender inclusion challenges in order to better position themselves to help the Pacific and mainstream gender in programmes in the future,” she said.
The 31st SPREP Meeting of Officials and associated meetings are taking place at Taumeasina Island Resort in Samoa this week, from 4-8 September 2023. The meetings are guided by the theme: “SPREP@30th Sustainable, transformative and resilient for a Blue Pacific.”
The 31st SPREP Meeting of Officials and associated meetings bring together SPREP's 20 Pacific Island Member countries, 5 Metropolitan Members and partners to discuss strategic issues pertaining to the organisation, and to approve the 2024-2025 work plan. The 21 Pacific Island Member countries and territories of SPREP are: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna. The five Metropolitan members of SPREP are: Australia, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
In our efforts to fulfil our vision of ‘a resilient Pacific environment, sustaining our livelihoods and natural heritage in harmony with our cultures’, SPREP is extremely grateful to our valued Members, development partners, donors, our CROP family, and stakeholders.
For more information on the 31SM, please contact: [email protected]