CITES Pre-COP 19 meeting for Pacific Islands region
4-7 October, 2022,
Opening address Easter Chu Shing
Lealaisalanoa Frances Reupena, CEO of the Samoa Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Hyeon Jeong, CITES Secretariat Representative
Sarah Bagnall and Hugh Robertson, OCEANIA Standing Committee and OCEANIA Animals Committee reps from NZ;
Damian Wrigley, OCEANIA Plants Committee rep from Australia;
Distinguished representatives of SPREP Member countries
Representatives of Regional organizations and partners
Ladies and Gentlemen
All protocols observed
It is my pleasure on behalf of SPREP to warmly welcome you to the Oceania Preparatory Meeting for the 19th Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna which will be taking place in Panama in November this year. We are delighted to see all of you here in Samoa after two years of not having an in-person meeting.
An important part of SPREP’s core work is ensuring that our Members are provided with the technical advice, support and capacity to engage at international forums and respond to global issues. It is through these Preparatory meetings that we are able to bring together the Parties, partners, and experts to provide support to our Pacific Island member countries through the sharing of information and exchanging of views. This preparatory meeting also provides an opportunity to consolidate and strengthen our collective participation and engagement at COP19 on issues that are important to our region.
I would like to acknowledge with appreciation the close collaboration between SPREP, the CITES Secretariat and the Oceania CITES representatives in Australia and New Zealand in bringing together this Pre-COP Agenda. We also acknowledge with appreciation the support of the species experts who will be sharing with us their knowledge and expertise. We are also delighted to welcome colleagues from SPC and FFA who are participating in this meeting and we look forward to much closer collaboration on marine species conservation and management between RFMOs and CITES.
The main objective of this 4 day meeting is to provide an opportunity to identify, review and deliberate on issues of concern to our region and to better coordinate the small number of Pacific delegates who will be attending the CoP19 meeting in November.
Once again there will be a focus on marine species proposed listings for sharks and sea cucumbers and further discussions on marine turtles including a proposed resolution for us to consider.
As you are aware, the Pacific island region have key regional strategic frameworks in place that would provide useful guidance to your discussions this week. In particular, the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent endorsed by Pacific island leaders in July which sets out our leaders’ vision and commitment and the need for immediate appropriate action to combat the threat and impacts of climate change, biodiversity and habitat loss, waste and pollution and other threats. The Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Islands region 2021 – 2025 provides guidance for the region on key priorities for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management with linkages to the Global Biodiversity Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Pacific Islands Regional Marine Species Programme 2022 – 2026 is a regional strategy for conserving and managing dugong, marine turtles, whales and dolphins, sharks and rays, and seabirds.
2022 is a significant year globally and for our region as we grapple with the most important issues of our time – the triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution. We must agree on a bold new Global framework for Biodiversity to prevent the predicted 6th great extinction event from happening, we must agree on new targets to prevent our planet from becoming uninhabitable through climate change and we must ensure the process for developing a new international agreement on plastics is successfully established. And of course, our greatest global commons the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction, the final frontier where we must agree to prioritise protection alongside sustainable use. CITES plays a critical role in biodiversity protection by allowing the use of wild animals while ensuring their survival and their role in ecosystems is not threatened.
I would encourage you to ensure there are synergies and joint messages across the conventions that will be convening COP meetings in the next few months. The UNFCCC COP27, the CBD COP15 as well as the first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution. SPREP will do its part from the Secretariat’s side, but I would also encourage you to do the same at the national level and within the respective organisations that you represent.
Ladies and gentlemen, again, we are delighted and honoured to be able to host you this week, and I encourage all participants to take advantage of the CITES Secretariat, SPREP staff, and technical experts who are here and available online to provide assistance and guidance as you prepare for the upcoming CoP in Panama.
I wish you a productive and successful meeting.