Submitted by admin on Thu, 03/06/2014 - 18:31
March 6, 2014 by admin
General News
Today we celebrate International Women's Day for 2014. The special day which commemorates women and their efforts around the world first began in 1911. As well as celebrating the economic, social and political achievements of women, International Women's Day is also a time to focus world attention on areas requiring further action.

The theme for 2014 – 'inspiring change' – encourages advocacy for women's advancement everywhere in every way. This provides a good opportunity to celebrate the role of women in Pacific societies.

Here at SPREP, we are proud to be able to celebrate the many different ways that women in the Pacific have helped to inspire change for a better environment.

Increasing opportunities for women makes good sense for us at SPREP as sustainable development in the Pacific will not be achieved unless women are fully involved in all aspects of the management and protection of our Pacific environment.

Earlier this year, staff at SPREP nominated over 40 women from the Pacific islands region to be celebrated in this special publication. We sent out a request to all seeking further information so we could celebrate their work, together with you.

We would like to thank all the women who responded to our request, taking the time to fill out the profile questions and above all thank all women in the Pacific for their contributions to inspiring change for a better environment.

Much has been achieved in terms of womens rights and empowerment. A growing number of countries have policies and legislation that support gender equality and reproductive health. Women are also now more likely to participate in senior positions in government. However there is still much that should and must be done to ensure the effective participation of women in Pacific societies.

So today on the occasion of 2014 International Women's Day let us all reflect - with appreciation - on the role of women in the Pacific and at SPREP.

Happy International Women's Day!


David Sheppard
Director General

Dr Netatua Pelesikoti, Director Climate Change Division, SPREP

Dr Pelesikoti2
Career Highlights:
• Engagement at the community level and provided community groups with technical assistance including many women's groups in Tonga on a voluntary basis. I assisted with developing project proposals such as for conservation (tree and mangrove replanting) to address water shortage issues by development projects for water tanks as well as projects to fill swampy areas subdivided for settlements.
• As a trainer using participatory and community-based approaches I trained and facilitated the development of integrated community plans addressing a broad range of risks faced by communities - such as in Sanasana Fiji and Savaii in Samoa.
• I have trained and facilitated national and community stakeholder events to help develop Integrated Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Action Strategies in the context of national sustainable development plans such as in Tonga, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Niue, Nauru, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. I have also developed DRM plans and reviews in Vanuatu, Palau, Solomon Islands and PNG.
• I helped to develop Tonga's Fanga'uta and Fangakakau Lagoon Management Plan, Tonga's Offshore Aggregates Dredging Guideline, Niue's Coastal Development Policy after Cyclone Heta and Federated States of Micronesia Policy for lagoon dredging and channel development.
• I am a lead author in IPCC WG 2 - 5th Report - Small Islands Chapter.

Overcoming Challenges:
Juggling family obligations with being a working mother and being away from home when the children were young was a real challenge. Now they are young adults I'm still away from home! Luckily I have a very supporting family and extended family network. For this International Womens Day 2014, I would like to remember with fond memories and with gratefulness my mother, mother- and sisters-in-law, aunties, grandmothers, and sisters for the roles they played in my life so that I could overcome the challenges I faced.

Words of Wisdom:
Your talents given by God could be used wisely to multiply and support the wellbeing of your family, your community and the people of the Pacific. Demonstrate with hard work and dedication to your profession and be a good role model to young professional Pacific women that you got to where you are with your skills and professional experiences and not through some pre-conceived views of Pacific women held by many people.

Dr. Milika Sobey, Water and Wetlands Program Coordinator, IUCN Oceania Regional Office
mili portrait

Career Highlights:
• I contributed to capacity building Pacific Islanders in resource assessment methods and data analysis whilst teaching at USP for 20 years. Now I see my former students gainfully employed in the environment field either within government and/or other agencies. This gives me great satisfaction. Many have progressed to getting postgraduate qualifications in environmental sciences and are serving the region in different capacities.
• Becoming a certified SCUBA diver in 1985 when there were very few local divers, men or women. My ability to dive opened up many opportunities to work on Environmental Impact Assessments and to be a resource person for regional training workshops.
• Being part of the core group that established the Women and Fisheries network in the early 1990s. It is a group that has endeavoured to work with communities and to raise the profile of women's issues in the fisheries sector.
• I was appointed the Regional Project Manager for a project (MESCAL) that was struggling to get off the ground after 16 months and which had undergone several changes in key personnel. To have turned that project around in two years into one that produced some key outputs for the five regional countries in which it was implemented and whose success secured the funding for another major project for the office was very satisfying.

Overcoming Challenges:

Unfortunately because of cultural backgrounds, your worth as a professional female Pacific Islander can often be underestimated. Let your work speak for itself.

Words of Wisdom:
Don't let your career define you as a person. At the end of the day, it's the more important things like your family, values, spirituality and culture that define you.

Ms. Christina GK Fillmed, Executive Director, Yap State Environmental Protection Agency, Yap State, FSM

Ms Christina Fillmed Yap State EPA

Career Highlights:
My career highlights have included a clean-up of a disposal site by the US Coast Guard of a former USCG LORAN site in Yap, removal of derelict marine vessels, establishment of a container deposit recycling program, and rehabilitation of the only public open dump site into a landfill.

I'd like to draw attention to key individuals who have played a part in shaping the ethic that I carry and hope to always improve on, because they have allowed for me to be a part of achievements for Yap State, FSM.

Dr. Margie Falanruw has literally written the book on many things ecological in the Pacific however I have the gift of calling her a mentor and on the other side of the spectrum is having the opportunity to work with Miss Loren J. Atkins, our agency's environmental lawyer who is an Australian Volunteer though the Australian Volunteers International (AVI) program.

Both women have helped to shape and foster the achievements I have had a hand in, for the benefit of Yap, the FSM, and Pacific region.

Overcoming Challenges:
Throughout the years I have been placed in various situations where I've felt to be in a difficult position - a place where I have been made to feel very little for being young or different or as though I was not of the right familial configuration or social status. I have tried many different things to try to overcome this. 'Just be yourself' was the advice I kept going back to in order to address the real issue at hand because at points I was defensive prematurely rather than being mindful, observant, respectful, and most of all diligent. Diligence, I've been told, taught, and shown by others is best executed quietly and consistently because there is a lot to be said by doing. This is a lesson, task, and responsibility that I have not accomplished or mastered, but struggle with every day.

Words of Wisdom:
I do not think I am in a position to provide advice, genuinely because I see women around me that have more worthwhile and valuable words to impart because of the many things they have accomplished or take steps towards on a daily basis. These can sometimes be small, seemingly petty, but altogether important goals and activities. Everything can be said of you, but nothing can be disproved of what you do. This is one of the key lessons I have found to be true based on the things gathered and learned in my limited experience.

Nafiza Ali, Health Inspector, Nadi Town Council, Fiji

Career Achievements:
• I have been heavily involved in the community meeting and awareness raising of three projects carried out in Fiji: "Waste Minimization and Recycling Promotion Project in the Republic of Fiji Islands", Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management in Pacific Island Countries (J-PRISM) and the Promotion of Shibushi Model (Waste Minimisation without Incineration) from Fiji to Pacific island countries.
• I have been registered under the Fiji Teachers Registration Board for limited authority to teach and therefore have conducted and facilitated a number of training sessions for teachers on waste management and minimisation in schools. Upon request from schools I have also conducted numerous professional development sessions for the teachers on environmental issues. Training was also conducted for the teachers from other towns and cities upon request.
• The Clean School Program was introduced in 2010 and I have been strongly involved in the preparation of the awareness materials (guidebook, presentations) and promotion of this program to the schools in Nadi. From the implementation of this program, schools in Nadi have shown great improvements in their school environment. The benefit of this program, the success stories and activities of Nadi schools are now being adopted by the other schools in the western division of Fiji (Lautoka, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki) and the Pacific Island countries (Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu etc).

Overcoming Challenges:
The practice of waste minimisation and recycling (3R) was a new concept for the people and therefore it was really difficult for people to grasp the changes in the waste management system. However behavioral changes were observed in our people after organising a series of meeting and pocket meetings with the community. Educational materials were developed and distributed house-to-house creating awareness on this new concept. Media awareness through television, newspaper and radio also played a vital role in disseminating the information.

Words of Wisdom:
Environmental work is exciting and very challenging. As women we have to be strong and willing to take on challenges. At many occasions we have to sacrifice our personal time and commitment to keep up with our work.

Ms. Titi Gabi, General Manager, PNG Edge
Titi Gabi

Career Highlights:

• Family, friends and relatives are now converts themselves - they are mindful about where they throw their rubbish.
• The community beach clean-up initiative has influenced two other coastal villages to do their own.
• I have been doing this successfully with any funding from government, provincial governmens, regional networks so it proves you can save the planet from just doing. Get up and get it done.
• I involved my son's U20 rugby union team in the last cleanup (2012) as a fundraiser - and they were able to buy their shorts and socks and were then called 'eco warriors'.

Words of Wisdom:
To make a difference does not require a lot. Money certainly isn't the deciding factor. It shouldn't be. All it requires is a burning desire to make a difference. Anyone's inspiration to get up and do it should be the joy in the faces of our children and watching them play in a very different environment from the one we had - we had it all. Now let's give them a future to remember us by.

Anne Rasmussen, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Global Environment Facility/Climate Change Advisor, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa

Career Highlights:
• Supported the Focal points and worked with Agencies to source funding under GEF and other related donors to implement the National Adaptation Program of Action for climate change intervention and also formed the first National Climate Change Summit in 2008 with our former CEO.
• Selected to co-chair the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) session on Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) on issues relating to national communications and reporting for the Non Annex 1 (Developing) countries.
• Over my career I have also worked alongside sector partners to help ensure that climate change is considered as part of their sector planning in Samoa.

Overcoming Challenges:
I have found that some people focus on your limitations whether it's your age, gender or past experiences. When I am faced with this I just try to focus on the task ahead, rise above it and know that I was placed on this earth to fulfill a purpose. No matter what we have a calling in whichever field we are placed.

Words of Wisdom:
Just remember you cannot please everyone, you will always meet different people with different perspectives, remain positive and see it from a holistic approach. If you learn to filter and understand the other side's perspective you will be able to give sound advice to your superiors. Always keep this at the back of your mind – "How will you be able to help the generations to come with the advise and decisions that you make today?"

Ms. Nunia Thomas, Director, NatureFiji-MareqetiViti


Career Highlights:

• Compiled and launched Fiji's first web-based endangered species compendium for teachers and students with NatureFiji-MareqetiViti
• Was NatureFiji-MareqetiViti's first recruit in 2007, managing just one project. Implemented the first island-wide, multi-stakeholder awareness campaign on Taveuni in 2009 in collaboration with the National Trust of Fiji. This led to follow-up projects including the development of the American iguana eradication plan; consultations for the establishment of the Taveuni National Park; and increased awareness within Fiji and internationally of Taveuni's uniqueness and status.
• Designed and implemented NatureFiji-MareqetiViti's first forestry related project: Creating Permanent Forest Estates for the benefit of Fiji's people and biodiversity. This project communicated about ecosystem services provided by Fiji's forests and the roles landowners play in ensuring that future generations will also receive these services.

Overcoming Challenges:
Maintaining a balance between field-based research and administrative work - this is an ongoing time management challenge!

Words of Wisdom:
Be an evidence-based individual. Accept and acknowledge criticism - it will only help us grow to be better leaders. It is OK to say no.

Ms. Ngedikes Olai Uludong, Lead Negotiator of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)

DSC 1275

Career Highlights:
• Working to promote public education and awareness on the impacts of climate change to the people of Palau, the Marshall Islands and AOSIS member states.
• Providing summer camps in the northern Pacific to high school students on climate change and environment awareness.
• Helping community organisations apply for projects such as the Go KIO - women's club in RMI and the Adopt the Airport Park project.
• Helping people understand the UNFCCC climate change process at the international level and at the national level helping island communities adapt to climate change.

Overcoming Challenges:
Having to move to New York and being away from my daughter, family and home. This is still a big challenge for me but I believe in prayer, having faith in what I cannot see, doing what I do for my daughter and for all those people who don't know I am doing this for them.

Words of Wisdom:
Get an education, dream big and make it happen!

Dr. Winifereti Nainoca, Environment Team Leader, UNDP

wini nainoca

Career Highlights:

• Being an Executive Committee member for the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA). This was also a timely privilege since I gained such valuable experience in community conservation work while working with FLMMA partners.
• I was the Head of School for General Studies (later School of Applied Science) at the Fiji Institute of Technology/FNU from Jan 2003 – Jan 2009, a school through which the NZ Auckland University of Technology's Bachelor of Applied Science was offered. Some of the graduates of this programme now hold responsible positions in the government and in various environmental NGOs and are now my colleagues working together for various environmental initiatives – this is very satisfying and rewarding indeed!
• On a personal note- helping to start the conservation work for the Bureonoco Tikina district and also being a part of the ongoing conservation work in the Rewa province to which I belong.

Overcoming Challenges:
Pursuing a career while completing my post graduate qualifications (Masters in Environmental Science with Honors from Australia and PhD in Environmental Planning and Conservation from New Zealand) was a major challenge however this was overcome by a strong faith in God and also a loving and strong support from family, especially my husband.

Words of Wisdom:
All of us women need to know and appreciate the fact that we play such an important role in environmental management and conservation at all levels in the Pacific. Women in villages and settlements know a lot about the ecology of environment and have noticed and understood the consequences of anthropogenic activities on the environment, thus play an important role in environmental management and conservation initiatives at the community level. Meanwhile, as senior staff at NGOs, women are helping to shape environmental policy and guide the direction of enviromental governance across the region Meanwhile, at Directors & NGOs CEO levels women are helping shape policies and guiding direction of environmental governance work.

Ms. Easter Chu Shing-Galuvao, Biodiversity Adviser, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)

Career Highlights:

• I have been working in the environment area since I started my professional working career in 1992. It is an area which I am very passionate about and will always continue to be involved in any work that concerns the environment.
• Working with local communities is something that I always treasure and hold dear to my heart. I was very fortunate to have had many opportunities throughout my career where I was able to work closely with local communities in Samoa on their environment projects. It was through this work that I came to understand and appreciate more the values communities place on the environment not only for livelihood but also the cultural links to the environment.
• Playing a key instrumental role in organising the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas which was held in December 2013 in Suva. The organisation of this event was very challenging but the end results were very satisfying. This was the biggest event that I was ever directly involved in and I was glad to have played a great part in it.

Overcoming Challenges:
Creating a balance between work and life can be quite challenging especially when I was trying to raise a young family while at the same time responding to the demands of my work which often requires me to be away from my children. My approach to this was to ensure that I spend good quality time with my family and try and not let my work take over the precious time that I should be spending with my family.

Words of Wisdom:
If you have a passion for something, put your heart into it and always strive for the best. Use every opportunity to learn new things and use these to further develop your career. Stay focused and rise above any challenges that may come your way.

Ms. Sue Miller Taei, Executive Director, Pacific Islands and Oceanscape Programme, Conservation International

Career Highlights:
• Introduced conservation campaigning to the region in mid 1990s with the region's 1995 Year of the Sea Turtle. These 'year of' events are now common practice as we learned we could celebrate conservation actions as well as focus on the seriousness of's not all gloom and doom.
• Helped found whale watching tourism in Tonga in the early 1990s when few in Tonga thought tourists would pay to see whales and many in Tonga thought this activity quite funny and strange! Whale watching is now the centrepiece of Tonga's tourism and some of the best times of my life have been on the water with Tongans and whales.
• Co-founded the design team for the Nature Conservation Roundtable in 1997, an initiative that has grown for agencies to better support the conservation needs of Pacific island countries and territories and is still being used and is evolving to meet todays needs in the region.
• Helped Kiribati secure the world's largest and deepest UNESCO World Heritage site - the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in 2010.I enjoyed working with Kiribati and partners on the region's first large scale MPA for more than eight years. This site is still going strong and is a site which has inspired other Pacific states and the region in the form of the Pacific Oceanscape.
• Secured support and worked with communities in the post-tsunami clean up - particularly the in-water clean-up and helped pick up much that had been washed into the sea in Samoa. In the midst of tragedy and loss the human spirit grows strong and resilient.

Words of Wisdom:
"what would you do if you were not afraid or lacked confidence...... believe in yourself, even pretend to if you can't have self belief, it will come."

The Late Tania Temata, Former Deputy Director of the Cook Islands National Environment Service

(19th Feb 1970 - 8th Oct 2012)


Tania started working for Cook Islands Government in 1992 for Conservation Service until 2012 for National Environment Service. Below is feedback from her colleagues as we commemorate her achievements to inspire change.

Career Highlights:
• Represented the Asia and Pacific Region as a member of the CBD COP Bureau.
• Organised and coordinated the 7th Pacific Islands Conference for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands in 2002 bringing over 500 people around the Pacific Region.
• Was the Deputy Director for National Environment Service
• Represented the Cook Islands and was a lead negotiator at regional and international conferences stemming from Multilateral Environment Agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change.

Words of Wisdom from Tania:

"I have a strong belief that women serve as better stewards of our land, our sea, we understand mother nature, we are mothers after all....I find it easier to talk to women about caring for our environment, they have this maternal instinct about the land and its resources and nurturing it rather than destroying it"...Tania Temata

"Every time we attend a meeting, the ladies always band together on our thoughts and ideas and go into the meeting with a united stand; not because we had decided that our women views were the way to go, but because we felt that we were a minority in the group and should be supportive of each in order to get our voices and views heard. Of course we get the odd remark now and then when we fight hard, 'that's not very Pacific women of you'. Well, what is a very Pacific woman one might ask? One that will not speak up even if she knows it's wrong, one that will do nothing even if all goes wrong? I think not, but then again there's this thing called doing things the Pacific Way, and yes, it's all good, good for tourism and marketing, but not so much when you are negotiating for our right and recognition as part of the global family. It does not work, in fact it sometimes works against us.....being nice and humble, don't rock the boat, be very compromising, just smile and take it all in.....well, no one cares at the international level, its every man for himself, and if you miss the boat, too bad, it's harder to unravel and correct things at that level. We had to keep reminding ourselves not to be nice all the time, although we have been tuned in to smile and say hello to everyone."....Tania Temata

Ms. Wendy Polo Beti, Environment Officer, Environment and Conservation Division, Ministry of Environment Climate Change Disaster Management and Meteorology, Solomon Islands


Career Highlights:

• The fact that our Solomon Islands team won the 'Best Team Award in 2011' for our work under J-PRISM (Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management in Pacific Island Countries) without a technical expert from the Japan International Cooperation Agency was really something special for us.
• Being given the chance to manage a national project for six months was a huge step and learning experience given the nature of the task.

Overcoming Challenges:
One of the key challenges I faced in my career is the responsibility of being a team leader. I learned over time that one has to put more effort, time and require the support of all in the team in order to achieve whatever tasks or planned activities. I also learned that a team leader can be anybody and one has to understand the situation of each of his or her team players. Without the support of team players, there would be nothing achieved. Good communication and networking and establishing a good working relationship where you are comfortable with other stakeholders in your team is something I also learned in my profession.

Words of Wisdom:
I believe that women are great advocators of the environment and are agents of change if given the change, time and support. I encourage other Pacific women out there to be great leaders in the society and to never give up or give in to any criticism. Criticism should be taken as advice and a way forward to improve further in your career. Over the past four years, I learned that I am not alone in the fight for environmental sustainability or waste management. There's a wider community out there who can always render their support or advice.

Ms. Premila Chandra, Senior Assistant Health Inspector, Nadi Town Council
Image - Premila

Career Highlights:

• Being actively involved in the Waste Management and Recycling Promotion Pilot Project of the Government of Fiji that was conducted in Nadi Town Council and Lautoka City Council, which has given me the opportunity to share this knowledge, data and experience with our counterparts at both national and regional level.
• Invited by SPREP to share the success story on the Clean Schools Program conducted by Nadi Town Council at the Clean Pacific Project workshop in February 2012 at Tanoa Skylodge.
• Invited by J-PRISM (Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management in Pacific Island Countries) to conduct Clean Schools Program training to both counterparts and teachers in Kiribati in 2012 and for Honiara City Council in the Solomon Islands in 2013.
• Effectively implementing the Clean Schools Program with the support of the Ministry of Education in the Western Region of our Country, which is also recognised regionally

Overcoming Challenges:
I was the only female staff member in the Health Department of the Council from the time I joined the organisation in 1992. I showed that I can work equally as strong as my male counterparts by working side-by-side with them in my every day work.

Words of Wisdom:
Choosing a career in the environmental field is very exciting as we become very innovative to counter the challenges as time evolves. Like the saying goes "The sky is the limit" therefore we all have the capabilities to achieve our goals in life without looking back.

Akisi Bolabola, volunteer with YWCA doing programme development and a few local NGOs

Kisi B

Last formal employment position held Programme Coordinator, Sustainable Coastal Resource Use Management with WWF South Pacific as of June 2013.

Career Highlights:
• Making the decision to work in the environment field.
• The opportunity to work in government and non-government organisations and explore private corporate engagements.
• Building networks around the country (Fiji), Pacific region and internationally.
• Encouraging volunteerism.
• Understanding my local communities better than ever, it's all about changing behaviours.

Overcoming Challenges:
Working with a diverse range of individuals and most who are headstrong, it takes patience and understanding perceptions to tackle this sort of challenge.

Words of Wisdom:
At this point in time, everyone should be an environmentalist, it's everybody's business to take care of the environment, so work to win people's hearts and minds, and more importantly change their behaviour to at least care for their natural surroundings, doesn't' have to be a forest or a river or stream, it starts at changing basic lifestyles at home.

Agnetha Vave-Karamui, Chief Conservation Officer, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology. Solomon Islands Government


Career Highlights:
• On behalf of the Ministry, initiated, led and collaborated with colleagues and partners in celebrating the World Environment Day (June 5) in 2008 in Solomon Islands. Since then, each year, the Ministry in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, key Government agencies, NGO partners, women groups, youths and schools commemorate the World Environment Day, World Oceans Day (June 8) and Coral Triangle Day (June 9) during June (as one major event). This has also influenced some Provincial Governments to conduct similar events to promote environmental issues and their efforts in addressing them.
• Organized hosting of the Second Ministerial Meeting, bringing in Minister's of the six countries to Gizo, Western Province. Peter Garett, former Australian Minister attended as a development Partner during the Meeting.
• In 2011 we conducted the first ever Solomon Islands Provincial Government's Environment Roundtable – bringing in Nine Provincial Premiers or representatives and the Honiara City Mayor. This was a sector-forum to discuss our Provinces can assist national government in implementing and promoting community based resource management and also to have dialogue on opportunities for learning and sharing about new emerging issues and concepts
• Coordinated development partner programs under the CTI-CFF – Australia CTI Support Program, USCTI Support Program and ADB Coral Triangle Pacific Project. This was done together with hard-working project staff for relevant activities including the implementing NGO partners who worked out in the Provinces, communities and individuals. These projects have implemented CTI-related projects in Malaita, Isabel, Choiseul, Central Islands, Guadalcanal and Western Province. Future work needs to be extended to other Provinces as well.
• One of my recent roles is to represent the Ministry as the Gender Focal Point. This is linked to the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs efforts to have contacts and links to all government agencies. This is a wonderful opportunity for environmental issues to be raised and represented and vice versa (gender considerations included in our work).

Overcoming Challenges:
Looking at the bigger picture (global and national issues) and working with the community is always challenging. Agendas on biodiversity loss climate change etc. are important as such increasing food/fuel prices, overfishing, deforestation, growing population, waste management to name a few in Solomon Islands. Communities and families needs for clean water, proper sanitation, need for cash and other developmental aspirations are usually prioritized than protecting forests/mangroves, endemic species or reducing fish catches.
With limited technical and financial capacity by governments, I believe partnerships with NGOs, CBOs, academic institutions, tribal leaders and resource persons to implement the various programs are useful.
I highly appreciate the various mechanism and protocols developed by the Ministry to ensure that communities have an opportunity to drive our national priorities and agendas. There are several community-based resource management guidelines, protocols and frameworks developed by various partners that I refer to for guidance in dealing with this challenge.

Words of Wisdom:
Working in the environment and conservation sector is a challenging but noble one, especially in the Pacific context. With our forests, oceans, rivers and streams, being the primary source of our heritage, food and livelihoods, our environmental concerns, strategies and government policies must be coined to include peoples needs and realities. This is not an easy task – this needs leadership, commitment, consistency and teamwork and trust. Increasing biodiversity losses from our islands, deforestations, destructive developmental practise, rising sea levels, invasive species and waste management etc are environmental issues facing our Region and must be advocated for. I salute women before us, our great grandmothers and mothers, who have instilled in us patience, goodwill and care to stand and assist in providing advice, information, skills and knowledge to our schools, communities and our governments to address these problems. I further praise women in the Pacific who paved so many paths for us young women today in this sector. The onus is on us– as one saying goes "words are just words: they must be put to action–We must continue to inspire change in our families, workplace, communities, governments, region and the world and importantly women of tomorrow. This is our challenge!

Dr. Stacy Jupiter, Fiji Country Program Director, Wildlife Conservation Society

ke 5059957

Career Highlights:

• Led the marine working group of the Fiji national Protected Area Committee (PAC) to develop an innovative approach to reporting on national and international commitments that considers the differential ecological effectiveness of various marine management strategies in a national marine gap analysis for Fiji.
• Participated in scientific data collection for and design recommendations leading to the establishment of 181.5 square kilometres of new marine no-take areas and 96.3 square kilometres of forest parks managed by local communities in Fiji.
• By invitation, joined the Fiji Government delegation to the Convention on Biological Diversity's 10th Conference of Parties in Nagoya, Japan, where I assisted in the negotiation of Decision X/29: Marine and coastal biodiversity.
• Financed and led the organisation of the inaugural and second Fiji Conservation Science Forums, held in Suva, Fiji, in 2009 and 2011, which showcased environmental work from young Pacific leaders. Currently organising the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania section conference to be held at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, during the week of July 7-11, 2014.
• Developed a handbook on ecosystem-based management principles and practice, tailored to conditions in the tropical western Pacific.

Overcoming Challenges:
When I began work with the Wildlife Conservation Society in Fiji in 2008, WCS did not have very good relationships with other environmental agencies in the country. I worked to develop the WCS Fiji Program's credibility by: (1) listening to valid concerns and criticisms, which I took on board as ways to improve our activities; (2) emphasising with WCS Fiji program staff the need to produce quality products and achieve objectives to high standards; (3) attempting to widen our collaborations among broader networks of organizations in Fiji and overseas; and (4) defending our strategies with science-based evidence of effectiveness.

Words of Wisdom:
Women often tend to be less hot-headed in their approach, and thus are able to inspire insightful dialogue about issues that can sometimes be contentious. Pacific women should use this to our advantage in easing conflicts and building bridges between communities, governments and civil society.

Brianna Fruean, Environmental Leader and Activist, Small Voices of Samoa

DSC 0815

Career Highlights:

I have been doing community work since I was nine years old. I've been fortunate enough to rally large groups of people to do tree planting, beach clean-ups and carpooling.
I have also got students from as early as pre-schoolers to University level to start their own green projects such as composting, energy saving and planting sustainable vegetable gardens.

Overcoming Challenges:
My age has always been the biggest challenge. I find that some people have a hard time taking me seriously but that challenge has never stopped me. Whenever someone says no, I go to the next person and ask for their support or I give it a rest for a while then ask again. I never stop knocking on doors. The worse thing they can do is say "No". I just ask the next person or ask them again next week.

Words of Wisdom:
I always believe and have said this many times, Change starts with you, however little it maybe, it's a start and no matter how young or old you are. My first community work was just myself, my four friends and my parents and sister with our homemade banners but we did it and we've come a long way. Through the years I've had people say no to me but that never stopped me it just made me work even harder. If you want to make a difference, be the change that you want to see.