08 September 2022, Apia Samoa - The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s (SPREP) third Executive Board Meeting has opened with a call from the Prime Minister of Samoa, Honourable Fiame Naomi Mata’afa to strengthen the Pacific’s resilience and participation in the determination of priorities, context and decisions being made at the global level for the future of Pacific communities.
Held via a blended platform, with participants joining virtually and those in Samoa joining face-to-face from the Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC) at the SPREP Campus in Vailima, the meeting is to discuss strategic, programme and governance issues pertaining to the organisation.
Prime Minister Fiame opened the two-day meeting and noted the timely responses and assistance provided by SPREP, regional organisations and development partners to support Pacific communities, despite the social, economic and development costs of the pandemic and the climate emergency.
“Despite the limitations and challenges that we have faced, I am very pleased to note that these have not diminished our commitment and obligation to addressing and supporting the needs of our Pacific peoples and region,” Hon. Fiame said. “The work of SPREP reflects the multi-faceted nature of our Blue Pacific region’s work and priorities. But it also attests to the fact that the complexity and multitude of challenges that we face cannot be addressed by any one organisation or country alone.
“Your meeting as the Executive Board of our organisation provides you the opportunity to discuss issues that affect sustainable development, resilience and our joint regional efforts and cooperation to protect and conserve the environment. Your dialogue with the Secretariat will help inform and shape our shared priorities and mutual goals, to be met through robust and genuine partnerships. You have a full work programme before you and important decisions to be considered. I wish you success in your deliberations and look forward to your Outcomes.”
SPREP’s Director General, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, welcomed Prime Minister Fiame’s blessings and thanked Samoa for its continued support to SPREP. In his first Executive Board Meeting as SPREP’s Director General, Mr Nawadra paid tribute to the support of all valued Members, development partners, donors, and all stakeholders and noted that despite the challenges, these are exciting times.
“I want to especially acknowledge the longstanding support of the Governments of Australia and New Zealand through their continued multiyear funding support towards SPREP’s core budget which enables SPREP to deliver services and support to Members,” said Mr Nawadra.
“We welcome the AU$10m funding support from the Government of Australia to support the PCCC and UNFCCC negotiations. I want to note SPREP’s reaccreditation to the GCF, which includes conditions for the Secretariat to address. I also note the 2050 Strategy endorsed by Leaders which requires a concerted and collective commitment to implement the priorities articulated in the 2050 Strategy.
“In this meeting, we will discuss in more detail the efforts of the Secretariat to continue to meet our mandate through the delivery of our Strategic Plan and support to our members to effectively engage internationally and in their efforts to meet their national obligations. Despite the challenges before us, these are exciting times and I’m looking forward to working with members and all of you for the rest of my term.”
The meeting’s tone was set by a devotion delivered by Pastor Leota Kosi Latu, the former Director General of SPREP, who spoke about the multiple challenges, including the climate crisis.
“It is very clear we need divine intervention to help us with some of these challenges,” he told the meeting. “There are things we cannot fix ourselves, we mean well in our attempts but even our best efforts, we have limitations.”
The Executive Board acknowledged Mr Latu’s services to SPREP, and wished Mr Nawadra the very best for his tenure as Director General.
The Third Executive Board meeting is being held via a blended platform, with participants joining virtually and those in Samoa joining face-to-face from the Pacific Climate Change Centre at the SPREP Campus in Vailima.
SPREP’s Executive Board includes the Troika of past, present and future chairpersons of the SPREP Meeting, and representatives of Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, Metropolitan, and French speaking Member countries of SPREP.
The 21 Pacific island member countries and territories of SPREP are: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna. The five metropolitan members of SPREP are: Australia, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.