Sustainable tourism EMG
Environmental Monitoring and Governance

15 September 2023, Apia Samoa - Promoting sustainable tourism while safeguarding the unique environmental, social and cultural heritage of the Pacific Islands was the central focus of a recent webinar convened by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the Pacific Network for Environmental Assessment (PNEA). 

Titled 'Environmental Auditing for Tourism Operations in the Pacific,' the webinar shed light on the role and significance of environmental auditing within the Pacific's vibrant tourism sector. This initiative is in line with SPREP's broader mandate on environmental governance and is supported by the EU-funded Capacity Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) in African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Countries - Phase III (ACPMEAs 3) program.

The webinar featured insightful presentations by Ms Kristine Keane of Environment Pacific and Ms Francesca Mills of GHD Pty Ltd. It provided a platform for a diverse audience, including government officials, environmental agencies, and tourism operators, to engage in meaningful discussions that will inform the development of regional guidelines.

The workshop sustainable tourism EMG

Environmental Auditing has emerged as a key instrument to evaluate the environmental and social impacts of tourism activities. It serves as a comprehensive method for assessing adherence to environmental regulations, a crucial step for integrating sustainability into tourism development. 

Although the Pacific region offers unparalleled natural beauty and cultural richness, it also grapples with challenges related to environmental management and conservation. These challenges, including limited resources for monitoring and compliance and limited opportunities for training and capacity building were highlighted by convening a mix of government representatives, and tourism operators for an in-depth dialogue.

"Environmental Auditing is a commonly neglected in the area of Environmental assessments,” said Mr Jope Davetanivalu, Director for Environmental Monitoring and Governance Programme at SPREP. "It is an important tool to assist in monitoring, enforcement and compliance across the region to support operators and regulators to safeguard our precious Pacific environment.”

The event was an important step in SPREP's ongoing collaboration with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) to develop a set of Regional Environmental Auditing Guidelines for Tourism Operations which will complement the implementation of the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework. The guidelines are also intended to support auditing and compliance processes in other sectors beyond tourism.

The webinar underscores the continued dedication and commitment of SPREP and its partners to ensure the Pacific's tourism sector thrives sustainably by safeguarding and preserving its unique environment for future generations.

The webinar was organised by SPREP through the Environmental Monitoring and Governance Programme and made possible with financial support through the Capacity Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) In African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries - Phase III (ACPMEAs III) programme.
For more information about the development of the Regional Environmental Auditing Guidelines for Tourism Operations in the Pacific, please contact Environmental Assessment and Planning Officer, Puta Tofinga, [email protected]; and PNEA Officer Ivan Diarra, [email protected]