Submitted by leannem on Tue, 12/01/2020 - 12:19
Shark in New Caledonia
December 1, 2020 by leannem
Island and Ocean Ecosystems

Bold, urgent action to protect our biodiversity is being called for in a Pacific declaration to tackle the global biodiversity crisis.

The Vemööre Declaration: Commitments to nature conservation action in the Pacific Islands region, 2021-2025 was endorsed at the 10th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas this week.

The State of Environment and Conservation in the Pacific Islands: 2020 Regional Report launched during the Conference provides a bleak picture of biodiversity in the region, catalysing the call for action.

Pacific island governments, partner countries and the heads of 11 organisations that make up the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation have declared the need for transformative action.

The Declaration states that the global biodiversity crisis is an “existential threat to our Pacific Ocean, our Pacific Islands and to ourselves as Pacific peoples.”

What is the Vemööre Declaration?

There are five key areas within the declaration under which there are different action tracks, these are actions that governments and environment organisations recognise, endorse and are committed to implementing.

These five key areas are: Our Ocean, Our Islands, Our Connection with Nature, Implementation and Call to Action.  

An example of an action track is Our Connection with Nature: “Ensuring that environmentally and culturally sensitive tourism is implemented throughout the Pacific”;

Implementation: “Strengthening financing of nature conservation and nature-based solutions in the Pacific that are resilient in the face of global economic or political disruption.”

In total there are 21 action tracks that governments and heads of organisations have recognised, endorsed and are committed to implementing.

What are some brief examples of what the Vemööre Declaration commits our Pacific islands region to?

There are a wide range of key actions that need to be acted upon in the Pacific islands region that will result in positive protection for our environment:

An expansion of our networks of marine protected areas (MPAs), including locally managed marine areas, and other area-based effective conservation measures.  The Pacific islands will ensure that our MPA networks are ecologically representative, sustainably and effectively managed and resourced, community-led, and socially equitable. 

Nature-based solutions to sustain social-ecological systems will be implemented across our Pacific islands region as a fundamental response to climate impacts, disaster risk management, water and food insecurity, and threats to human health.

People will be at the heart of conservation action by engaging community and civil society organisations, artists, traditional knowledge holders, elders (men and women) and young people, rural and urban, in the design, monitoring, and implementation of conservation initiatives.

Financing of nature conservation and nature-based solutions in the Pacific will be strengthened so that they are resilient in the face of global economic or political disruption

A strong commitment to action and accountability in implementing the urgent economic and societal transformations to address the biodiversity crisis that threatens both nature and people in our Pacific Islands.  The global community will be called upon as averting this crisis depends not only on action within the Pacific region, but on worldwide cooperation to address the global drivers of environmental change which affect the Pacific so profoundly.

How will we know the Vemööre Declaration: Commitments to nature conservation action in the Pacific Islands region, 2021-2025 is being followed and achieved?

The Pacific Islands Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas 2021 – 2025 is the guiding mechanism for nature conservation action across our region and will help achieve identified targets in a cohesive manner.  

The Framework is aligned to the Vemööre Declaration, as well as meeting the Blue Pacific goals endorsed by our Pacific island leaders.
Implementation of the Framework will be monitored and evaluated over the coming years through the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas.  It will also guide the work of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) as the inter-governmental regional organisation that works in partnership with its Member governments and partners to achieve its strategic goals.

What does Vemööre mean and why is it named this?

Vemööre’ is a term in the Kwényï language from the Isle of Pines, New Caledonia that refers to making something viable. It is used to highlight our collective commitment and responsibility to implement the principles of life, to preserve balance, to build alliances, and to respect the word between people and between the spirits of our environment. Vemööre is also close to the notion of resilience.

New Caledonia was the host of the virtual 10th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, including the virtual High- Level Segment, which saw the endorsement of the Vemööre Declaration.

Who attended the virtual High-level segment of the 10th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and endorsed the Vemööre Declaration?

Those in attendance included the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna.  Australia, France, and New Zealand.  

Pacific Island Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT) members present were BirdLife International, , cChange Pacific, Conservation International, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Oceania Regional Office, The Nature Conservancy, Pacific Community, Protected Area Learning Research Collaborative (PALRC),  Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - New Caledonia, and World Wide Fund for Nature-Pacific.

Remaining countries and territories not able to attend will be invited to endorse the declaration. 

Where can I access a copy of the Vemööre Declaration: Commitments to nature conservation action in the Pacific Islands region, 2021-202?

The electronic versions are now available in the SPREP library.  To access your English version please visit: https://www.sprep.org/sites/default/files/documents/publications/declaration-Vermoore-endorsed-2020-eng.pdf

To access your French version please visit: https://www.sprep.org/sites/default/files/documents/publications/declaration-de-Vermoore-endorsed-2020-fre.pdf