The Pacific meeting to prepare for the Earth Summit 2012, also known as Rio+20, provided the opportunity to reflect on the what was achieved since the first World Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, 1992.
Spanning over a period of three days, the Rio+20 preparatory meeting brought together Governments, NGO's, development partners, the church and pacific youth to help forge a way forward as the world leads towards the next Earth Summit in June next year.
Acting Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Mr. Kosi Latu says now the preparatory meeting is over, the next steps must address the challenges to sustainable development in our region.
"Some key bottlenecks in the process of sustainable development need to be urgently addressed in particular the meeting of existing commitments by our development partners and the improvement of access to the financing mechanisms set up as part of the Rio process."
"New climate financing arrangements need to be linked to measures that address accessibility. Many of the problems that pacific islands face related to issues such as climate change, the unsustainable use of resources and the loss of habitat arise from the actions particularly of developed countries and we need to continue to engage them with a view that they set or meet commitments that will address these problems."
The two themes of the Earth Summit 2012 are "Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication", as well as "institutional framework for sustainable development". These themes do not replace the existing initiatives towards sustainable development but rather serve to focus actions on greening the economy and strengthening institutional frameworks.
"It's the right kind of growth we're trying to promote so it's socio economically balanced development, taking into account people's livelihood, cultures, life styles and reducing environment degradation," said Dr Wari Iamo the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Conservation, also the current Chair of SPREP.
"It's really adjusting growth to the well being of the people, but at the same time taking into account the resources we affect."
SPREP will now work with sister agencies in the region, all committed towards assisting member states in their preparations towards Rio+20 through either national or joint positions in groupings such as Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) or the Alliance of the Small Island States (AOSIS).
"We have also noted the special request by the PSIDS for technical support during the continued negotiations leading up to Rio+20 and will play its role in coordinating this through the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific Sustainable Development and Marine Sector Working Groups," said Mr. Latu.
The Rio+20 Pacific Preparatory Meeting was held from 20 – 22 July in Apia, Samoa with the support of partners including SPREP, the United Nations and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Government of Samoa.