Auckland, New Zealand – Pacific Day, hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme on the margins of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) 2023 Conference, marked a significant milestone in fostering constructive dialogues and collaborations centred on environmental assessments and planning in the Pacific region.
With the support of Stantec New Zealand, EIANZ an the New Zealand Association for Impact Assessment (NZAIA), the event brought together a diverse group of over 60 participants from the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, and other international partners, including participants who joined virtually. These included esteemed representatives from regulatory government entities, impact assessment practitioners, academia, environment experts, and private sectors, with a common goal and commitment to shaping a more sustainable and resilient Pacific.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Easter Chu-Shing, Deputy Director-General of SPREP, emphasized the region's distinct challenges and highlighted the Pacific Day as a "platform for Pacific countries to engage in meaningful discussions, share lessons and experiences, and foster greater relationships with international organisations and experts on sustainable environmental practices." She also acknowledged SPREP’s recent partnership MoU signed with EIANZ highlighting it as a testament to deepening collective and collaborative efforts in achieving environmental sustainability in the Pacific region. Ms. Chu Shing emphasised that partnerships and collaborations are important in supporting our efforts in achieving sustainable development.
The event was well attended by leading experts and practitioners from the environmental sector from the Pacific including from Australia, New Zealand, ADB and the World Bank. Participants from Pacific Island Countries shared on their respective national environment policy frameworks and challenges they face, which include compliance and enforcement and capacity issues. Some innovative solutions were shared by Cook Islands on their e-permitting system for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which has increased the efficiency and effectiveness of their EIA process.
Some of the key outcomes of the Pacific Day 2023 was a spotlight on the Pacific's innovative approaches to environmental challenges, emphasising country-specific solutions, integrating traditional knowledge, and advocating for enhanced regional collaboration and resource allocation.
In his closing remarks on behalf of the Pacific Delegates in attendance, Mathew Rima of the Cook Islands National Environment Service remarked, “let us carry forward the knowledge, connections, and motivation that we have gained. Together, we can continue to make a positive impact and safeguard the precious natural resources of our Pacific home.”
The outcomes from the Pacific Day will help guide and inform SPREP’s work and assistance to further enhance capacity of Pacific countries on EIA, Strategic Environmental Assessment, and Environmental and Social Safeguard and provide targeted assistance to address specific needs of Pacific members.
SPREP and Pacific Island participation in the EIANZ 2023 conference and associated events is supported through the European Union initiated capacity building project phase 3 titled, “Capacity Building related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries”, implemented by UN Environment programme and executed by SPREP.
For more information on the EIANZ 2023 conference and associated events, please contact Jope Davetanivalu, Director of Environmental Monitoring and Governance Programme, [email protected], Puta Tofinga, Environmental Assessment and Planning Officer, [email protected] OR Ivan Diarra, Pacific Network for Environmental Assessment Technical Officer, [email protected].