General News

In 2010 at the 10th Meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Pacific region was given the opportunity to meet with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) during a Pacific Environment Ministerial Breakfast. It was chaired by Papua New Guinea and the guest speakers were Mr David Sheppard the Director of SPREP, Dr Nicholas King the Excutive Direcor of GBIF and Madame Monique Barbut, the CEO of GEF. Below is the full text of the speech presented by Mr. David Sheppard.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for making time in your busy schedules to be here today. Todays aim is to look at opportunities for Pacific Countries associated with the GEF – the Global Environment Facility and GBIF – the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

SPREP is the region's environment agency and has been working in support of Pacific countries for over 35000877 years to better manage and protect the terrestrial and marine environment in the Pacific.

The Secretariat has been very busy over the last year with an extensive reform process which has aimed to make SPREP more efficient and more focused on addressing the priority environmental needs of Pacific countries.

Our aim is also to strengthen partnerships to benefit Pacific countries and we are delighted to be sharing the stage today with GBIF and the GEF – two important partners in our region.

SPREP is fully accountable to Pacific countries through the annual SPREP Meeting. Many of you were present at the 2010 SPREP Ministerial Meeting, held in September in the beautiful province of Madang in Papua New Guinea.

You will recall Ministers at this meeting adopted a Strategic Plan for SPREP for the 2011 to 2015 period. This Strategic Plan was developed after the most exhaustive consultation process in SPREP's history. The Plan sets out ambitious targets for SPREP and the Pacific Region in biodiversity, climate change, waste management and pollution.

The plan places emphasis on monitoring environmental outcomes in Pacific countries and also at the regional level. This is an area that has been lacking in previous SPREP Strategic Plans. The priority placed on this area in the new plan reflects the fact that information on the biodiversity of the Pacific Islands region is generally either limited in accuracy and scope, out of date, or poorly documented.

Better information and data is essential to ensure more effective management and conservation in the Pacific islands region. Without this we are shooting in the dark - you as policy and decision-makers need timely and quality information to help you make strategic environment and develop decisions. We in the Secretariat need to understand regional and national environmental trends.

This is an area where we hope GBIF can play an important role. GBIF is an initiative enabling countries to have better access to biodiversity data. GBIF provides tools and capacity building which could greatly help Pacific countries in their conservation and sustainable development programmes.

I would note that in the Pacific region it is important to repatriate data that is collected by experts from outside the region and ensure that it is available to Pacific countries. Also that in the Pacific the issue of traditional knowledge is important.

SPREP invites GBIF to visit the Pacific region and engage more with Pacific experts, institutions and countries. We look forward to hearing further on GBIF from Dr King this morning.

Madam CEO of GEF – we are delighted that you are here today, particularly given your very busy schedule at this CBD COP 10. I would like to thank you for your strong personal commitment to the Pacific – this is acknowledged with appreciation.

As you know, Madam CEO the Pacific is a unique and vast region – covering 34% of the earth's surface - only 500,000+ km2 of land area in 30 million km2 of ocean! This size coupled with the limited capacity of many Pacific countries to manage their environment, poses many significant challenges for the Pacific. It is important that these unique circumstances of the Pacific are recognized by GEF.

This years' SPREP Ministerial Meeting focused on environmental financing and the role of the GEF in particular. Ministers had a full and productive discussion on these issues. Ministers noted strong appreciation for GEF funding in the region and for funding delivered under GEF 4 for the GEF PAS – Pacific Alliance for Sustainability – Programme.

It is critically important to continue to improve access by Pacific countries to GEF resources. It is positive that GEF 5 is allowing greater flexibility for access by small island states to GEF resources. We would like to see these initiatives continue and accelerate.

Madam CEO - SPREP greatly appreciates the extensive GEF reform process that has been undertaken under your leadership and it is also important that this continue. We look forward to hearing further from you this morning and I'm sure that Ministers will appreciate the opportunity to raise issues with you.

Thank you

Full story on the event available on the Pacific Biodiversity blogsite - Bionesian