Chair of the Fifteenth [or the Sixteenth] Meeting of the States Parties to the Noumea Convention,
Distinguished delegates and representatives of Parties,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I thank the Chair for your warm welcome remarks and thank the Parties whom, under these unprecedented times, have been able to join us virtually to this Sixteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Noumea Convention. I am informed that 11 of the 12 Parties to the Noumea Convention are present, virtually, and that gives great prominence to the Noumea Convention as we continue to face challenges on a shoe-string budget.
Distinguished delegates and representatives, these are unprecedented times with its own challenges. Since the last Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2019, the Secretariat has managed to carry out some of the key activities to support our Parties’ capacity to implement the obligations under the Noumea Convention. As such, I am pleased to provide a summary of some of those key activities we have been able to undertake through the lockdowns and the travel bans:
- There has been a significant focus on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasising the support to address marine litter and plastic pollution through the implementation of the Pacific Regional Marine Litter Action Plan 2018-2025.
- The programme on capacity building related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries are in its Phase 3 which commenced fully this year with the recruitment of personnel to coordinate the implementation of activities under this Programme. This has been timely given the need to strengthen Parties’ implementation of their obligations under the MEAs. The most unique feature of this Programme is that it now covers the capacity building and support to Parties to implement their obligations under the Noumea Convention.
- The Secretariat established an oil spill response agreement with the Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) for all Pacific Island Countries and Territories, including Parties to the Noumea Convention, with funding support from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and technical sponsorship from Maritime New Zealand. This will allow for better protection of the marine environment from impacts of oil spills.
- Distinguished delegates and representatives, the recent grounding of Samoa’s police patrol boat in Samoa’s internal waters is testament to the need to strengthen our capability to respond to such imminent threats to our marine environment and our people’s livelihoods. The Secretariat provided technical assistance and advice to Samoa’s national emergency and disaster authorities in this grounding incident.
- The Regional Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Guidelines on “Strengthening Environmental Impact Assessment: Guidelines for Pacific Islands Countries and Territories” continue to be highly valued and formally recognised and referenced by the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank as good practice in their new shared approach.
- The Secretariat continues to work with Parties to the Noumea Convention such as Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to complete the National Environment Management Strategies (NEMS).
- The pre-Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity commenced in August and ongoing, with the meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) to negotiate the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Prior to that, the Secretariat organised a workshop for our Pacific delegations to prepare them for these negotiations such as the Open-Ended Working Group. The Secretariat urges Parties to the Noumea Convention to be involved and engaged in these preparatory workshops for active engagement at international level negotiations to address current environmental threats and challenges.
Distinguished delegates and representatives, those are just a few of the plethora of activities that your Secretariat has undertaken to assist our Parties in the implementation of obligations under the Noumea Convention.
Distinguished delegates and representatives, the last COP meeting identified the challenges that exist under the current legal framework of the Noumea Convention. To address these, the COP meeting called for the review of the Noumea Convention. I am pleased to inform the Parties today that this review has been ongoing and sometime during these discussions, our consultant will be providing you with further information on the status and progress of the review of the Noumea Convention. I encourage our Parties to reach out to our consultant any time after his presentation to convey your invaluable input, if there has not been an opportunity to do so.
Distinguished delegates and representatives, the work is still ongoing for some of these key issues that impacts on our environmental livelihoods:
- Deep seabed mining – Pacific Environment leaders are being urged to take action on mining our seabeds within the parameters of national jurisdiction and what is in the common heritage of mankind.
- Negotiations are ongoing on biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) and areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) which the Secretariat provides to our Parties and SPREP Members the technical advice and assistance to these negotiations.
There is much to be done to strengthen our Noumea Convention and this virtual meeting today will be an opportunity to take a closer look at how we can transition the post-review Noumea Convention to respond to the imminent environmental challenges we currently face.
Distinguished delegates and representatives, I wish you well in your deliberations.
Thank you Chair.