Submitted by nanettew on Thu, 11/26/2020 - 15:50
Samoa
November 26, 2020 by nanettew
Island and Ocean Ecosystems

Pacific leaders in protecting Pacific islands biodiversity met today during the virtual High-Level Segment of the 10th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas.

Hosted by New Caledonia, the Pacific environment leaders came together over a special roundtable session to discuss their commitment to the Vemööre Declaration: Commitments to nature conservation action in the Pacific Islands region, 2021-2025.

“I’d like to thank all those who worked together all year on this, the Vemoore Declaration has now been finalised, for it to be implemented we have to make major commitments at our own levels,” presented Hon. M. Jean Pierre Djaïwé, New Caledonia Chair, the host country.

“I’m counting on you, the people of the oceans and the islands.”

The special session today brought together high-level delegates representing Australia, BirdLife International, cChange Pacific, Conservation International, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France French Polynesia, IUCN Oceania Regional Office, Niue, New Zealand and Samoa, Solomon Islands, The Nature Conservancy, The Pacific Community, The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Tokelau, Tonga, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, World Conservation Society, and World Wildlife Fund,

It was the opportunity for these Pacific environment leaders to learn more about the State of Conservation in the Pacific islands, and gain an understanding of the Pacific Islands Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas that will guide Pacific conservation efforts over the next five years. 

Chair of the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation, Mr Mason Smith of IUCN Oceania Region reflected upon the first conference of this kind hosted by New Zealand 45 years ago, calling for action needed for our future.

“We must act now.  The theme of this Conference is Nature Conservation Action for a Resilient Pacific, the operative work being action,” presented Mr Smith during the opening of the High-Level Segment.

“I encourage us all to hold ourselves accountable and take action where necessary.  Let us help ourselves first before we ask others to help us.  Let us be resilient.”

The 10th Pacific Island Conference on Nature Conservation is testament to the dedication and commitment from Pacific islanders and partners to protect our island biodiversity.  The largest Pacific gathering of its kind was scheduled to take place in April this year, yet the pandemic COVID-19 saw a major change take place, requiring fast action from many to make the event happen in a virtual space.

Commitment towards the Vemööre Declaration: Commitments to nature conservation action in the Pacific Islands region, 2021-2025 during the High-level segment is further tribute to the significant importance of this event.  In all over 1,700 people have registered and are participating in the Conference.

I would like to thank all partners that have come together with enthusiasm and passion for the ‘greater good’ - a Pacific biodiversity that is strong, building the resilience of our Pacific islands people and communities.  This Conference demonstrates what we can achieve when we work as one,” said Mr Kosi Latu, Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“The outcomes of this Conference will take the voices of the Pacific to international forums as part of the Blue Pacific contribution to urgent actions for nature conservation and building back a better planet for future generations.”

The High-Level Segment of the 10th Pacific Islands Roundtable on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas was held on 26 November 2020. 

The closed event began with an opening session followed by a statement on the State of Conservation, the development of Framework on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas and linkages with the Vemööre Declaration.

 Highlights of the Conference were also presented to the Ministers as well as a special session on work by the Pacific on the road to the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.  This was followed by the Roundtable for Ministers and Heads of Organisations before adopting the Vemööre Declaration by Acclamation.

The conference is organised every five to six years by the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT) and SPREP. The 10th Conference is hosted by the Government of New Caledonia.

The conference was originally scheduled to be held as a face-to-face event in Noumea, New Caledonia, from 19 – 24 April 2020. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the closure of borders for most countries in the Pacific, it has had to be postponed and changed to a virtual meeting.

The conference will be held from 24 – 27 November, with more than 150 speakers expected to present on various topics pertaining to the themes of “Our Ocean”, “Our Island”, and “Our Connection with Nature.” Currently, there are over 1700 registered participants of the conference.

For more information or to register for the conference, please visit the conference website at www.pacificnatureconference.com.

Photo by D.McFadzien