Welcome to our Q&A series on Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) Staff, helping you learn more about your SPREP team and the work we do together to support our Pacific islands region as we all strive for Pacific resilience and a sustainable environment.
Meet Ms Veronica F. Levi our Financial Accountant at SPREP. As a core-funded staff member, Ms Levi’s work plays an important cross-cutting role for SPREP’s four thematic programmes: Climate Change Resilience; Waste Management and Pollution Control; Environmental Management and Governance; and Island and Ocean Ecosystems.
Ms Levi works directly with a team of four, within the Finance and Administration department that consists of a team of 18. Led by the Finance and Administration Director, the team carries out financial management, financial reporting, and operations and administration of SPREP’s services and its premises.
Q: What is an environment challenge that you work to address?
A: As I work in a very central department of the organisation, often referred to as the engine room, our work at finance cuts across the wide range of environmental challenges which forms the basis of SPREP’s work – helping our Pacific islands Members to bring about positive environmental change in the Pacific. I’m particularly fond of SPREP’s efforts towards waste reduction in the Pacific region, for me it’s encouraging to see how and what we can do in our own work space and homes using practical, small but loud and proud, initiatives and actions that are better for our environment. We can also help bring about changes in behavior of our children in this area, as well as our communities. It’s also encouraging to see the number of Pacific island governments taking the bold move to eliminate single-use plastics altogether in small and effective steps. So for us, we ensure that we implement the best financial management practices so that our programmes can deliver their work in our Pacific islands, on a timely and efficient manner. We provide financial advice and an assurance role to facilitate the implementation of our work on the ground. We provide an enabling environment to bring about positive change in the lives of our Pacific peoples.
Q: How do you work with our Members to address this?
A: The value and quality of finance work is particularly important as it demonstrates SPREPs capacity and ability to manage funds in an effective manner. This in turn provides Member countries with a high level of confidence in SPREP taking a leading role in active mobilization and effective management of funds which allows them to address environmental challenges on the ground. Through high quality financial management systems and tools we can provide financial reports that can be relied upon by members for further engagement with donors. The consistency of the results of our audits over several years with unqualified and clean audit opinions for SPREP as an organisation and the various project specific audits, is an indication of how well we are supporting the work through a streamlined and effective financial management system.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: We are currently working on putting together supplementary budgets for submission to the Second SPREP Executive Board Meeting in September this year.
Q: What are one or two of your highlights from working at SPREP?
A: Firstly, supporting SPREP colleagues and Member countries to participate in the annual UNFCCC Climate Change Conference of the Parties - I think it’s great that SPREP still pushes for Member country participation and that Member countries can come together to make a voice on environmental issues that pose a threat to them, despite the region being very small in size and economies.
Secondly, at the Annual SPREP meeting we can actually get to hear firsthand the concerns and issues of our Member countries which allow us to validate or otherwise make changes to align SPREPs strategies and develop new tools such as those in project management and finance etc. that enable us meet our Member country challenges.
Q: Where have you seen your work make a positive difference?
A: I think the biggest positive difference can be seen in terms of the empowerment and capacities of the officials of our Member countries in dealing with environmental policies and issues. Our Members are more aware and confident with the various engagements, trainings and exposure to tools, policies and global access to global environmental solutions. They are even more certain and assured of where they would like to be in the future keeping in mind the environmental challenges to their oceans, lands, climate and impacts on society.
Q: What words of advice do you have for people to make our environment a better one?
A: We are only caretakers of our Mother Earth. We need to exercise a deep appreciation of the natural resources around us. We don’t have to try to make big changes, we can start taking practical small steps starting from our own homes, and communities in our daily lives – these habits can be replicated and appreciated by others.
Q: What words of advice do you have for people that would like to work at SPREP?
A: Bring a lot of faith, wisdom and of course, your “A” game ready to work as a team. The work is challenging, but also very gratifying. BRING IT ON.