Submitted by leannem on Fri, 04/17/2020 - 22:01
Joshua Sam
April 17, 2020 by leannem
Waste Management and Pollution Control

17 April 2020 We are pleased to introduce our new Q & A series featuring our SPREP staff. In this series, we will be introducing you to members of our SPREP team, giving you the chance to learn more about what we do.

Last week we highlighted the important work being done to address some of the most prevalent persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Papua New Guinea, through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Implementing Sustainable Low and Non-Chemical Development in SIDS (ISLANDS) Programme. 

Mr Joshua Sam, Hazardous Waste Management Adviser for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, was the mission leader for the month-long assignment to Papua New Guinea, as part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s latest global initiative, the GEF ISLANDS programme, aimed at improving management of chemicals and wastes. 

This week, we get to learn more about Mr Sam as well as some of the important work he is currently undertaking for the Secretariat, with our Members and partners. 

Q: What is an environmental challenge that you work to address? 
A: I work to address the pollution of the environment from hazardous wastes and chemicals. 

Q: How do you work with our Members to address this? 
A: Generally, we have a fair knowledge about the needs of our Members so we are always seeking opportunities to assist them. Once we find a donor who is willing to assist our Members, we talk to them to identify priority areas that they would like assistance with. We then work with our Members to develop project proposals according to the requirements of the donor. Once the proposals are approved, we then execute them either directly through our Members or through consultants. 

Q: What have been your three biggest achievements with SPREP for our Members to date?
A: The first would be assisting Fiji, Tonga and Tuvalu to review and update their national implementation plans for the Stockholm Convention. Secondly, providing training on the Basel and Waigani Conventions to environment officials; and finally, the provision of Secretariat services to the Waigani Convention on transboundary movements of hazardous waste in the Pacific region. 

Q: What are one or two highlights of working at SPREP?
A: So far, my highlight has been a month-long mission in Papua New Guinea in 2019. Although it was a long mission, it was satisfying to travel to the country to find and safeguard obsolete stockpiles of hazardous waste and prevent locals from being exposed to these toxic substances. 

Q: Where have you seen your work make a positive difference? 
A: While there have been past efforts to assist our Members with the sound management or chemicals and hazardous wastes, they continue to face an uphill battle in this area. With a few pipeline projects earmarked to assist countries to address their hazardous waste problems, I see an increased level of enthusiasm from Focal Points to ensure they don’t miss out on these opportunities. I’m happy with the positive energy and engagement with Members. They seem very keen to work with us despite the competing challenges facing them, and that’s very reassuring. 

Q: What words of advice do you have for people to make our environment a better one?
A: My advice would be to reduce the amount of waste you produce by making good lifestyle choices. 

Q: What advice do you have for people who would like to work at SPREP?
A: SPREP provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.