Nadi, 27 June – Two very special groups of Pacific island young professionals and university students are gathering at the Tanoa Hotel in Nadi, Fiji this week to progress their aspirations for improving environmental conservation and people’s livelihoods.
The Pacific Emerging Environment Leaders’ Network (PEEL) comprises 21 early career professionals selected on merit for their drive, passion and commitment to improving the state of the environment and people’s lives. PEEL was formed in October 2011 during a symposium organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
The second group comprises 12 students from the AusAID-funded Future Climate Leaders’ Project (FCLP) of the Pacific Centre for Sustainable Development (PACE-SD). The two groups will explore ways of collaborating and building on their specific strengths through a series of sessions during the week.
Explaining the inception of the PEEL network, Seema Deo, Communications and Outreach Adviser of SPREP, said, “This is a bit of a departure from the norm when it comes to regional meetings - we would normally have representatives from countries who have been nominated by their governments. These Emerging Environment Leaders however, were selected on a competitive basis following a region-wide call for applications in 2011. Each individual participant therefore has a lot to live up to.”
PEEL member activities over the last 18 months have ranged from organising clean up programmes with people with disabilities, setting up environment clubs and mobilizing youth for the environment, organic farming ad volunteering their time with non-government groups through to participating in meetings and key events with the intent of profiling PEEL.
“They have just gone out and done things,” remarked Rennier Gadabu, an FCLP participant. “It seems that they did not wait for funded projects or sit around waiting for someone else to do something – they have just taken the initiative and done what was needed.”
This indeed, is the resounding theme of the forum – Leadership through Action – and the forum will focus on equipping both groups of participants to continue to take initiative and value innovation by strengthening leadership skills and building their knowledge on issues such as climate change.
“We also expect to have a more formalised process of collaboration between FCLP and PEEL by the end of the week,” said Ms Deo.
The forum, which is supported by FCLP, SPREP and the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) runs from 26 to 29 June. FCLP and PLP are initiatives of the Australian aid program.
For information on the Pacific Emerging Environment Leaders: Seema Deo, SPREP Communications and Outreach Adviser, ph: 679-9230287 email: [email protected]
For information on the Future Climate Leaders Project: Jone Tuiipelehaki, Communications Consultant, PACE-SD. Phone: 679-9936744. Email: [email protected] OR [email protected]