08 September 2022, Apia, Samoa - Tonga has been appointed to Chair the 3rd Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s (SPREP) Executive Board meeting taking place on 08 September – 09 September 2022.
The Chief Executive Officer of Tonga’s Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change & Communication (MEIDECC), Mr Paula Pouvalu Ma’u, takes over the role from the outgoing Chair of the 30th SPREP Meeting and Tokelau’s Director of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Mika Perez.
“I want to thank the Executive Board for their trust in having me to chair this meeting. I consider it an honour to be able to do this, acknowledging the multiple climatic challenges that are before us,” said Mr Ma’u. “I want to ensure that the Pacific region’s environment and climate change priorities are addressed at all levels.”
The Chairman noted that the social and economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic have added to the challenges Pacific countries are already facing from the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution impacts.
“For this meeting I want to encourage active engagement from all members to ensure positive outcomes are achieved to guide the work of SPREP for the immediate and long-term future, and more importantly to ensure a resilient future for our Pacific countries.”
The Chairman congratulated SPREP’s new Director General, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, who is presiding his first Executive Board Meeting, and acknowledged the former Director General, Mr Kosi Latu, for his contribution to SPREP and the Pacific region.
Samoa’s Prime Minister, Honourable Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, who officially opened the meeting, congratulated Tonga on being appointed Chair. She also acknowledged the work of the outgoing Chair, Mr Perez.
“I extend warm greetings and acknowledgement to the incoming Chair for 2022, the Kingdom of Tonga and Troika Members, Tokelau and the Solomon Islands and all Executive Board members. You have a full work programme before you and important decisions to be considered,” Prime Minister Fiame said.
Chairman Ma’u graduated with a Masters Degree in Economics with Honour from
Auckland University, New Zealand in 1991. He has worked for the Government of Tonga since 1993, serving in many roles including being the Head of the Budget Division of the Ministry of Finance, Deputy Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, the first Secretary for the Ministry of Information and Communications and his current role of Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change & Communication (MEIDECC). He has also led various Tongan delegations to many international and regional conferences.
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 (PCCC) 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.