September 2, 2014 by admin
2 September 2014, Apia, Samoa – Honourable Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi of Samoa and Mr. Achim Steiner Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today officially opened the new UNEP subregional office for the Pacific based in Apia, Samoa and signed the Host Country Agreement. This was acknowledged as the perfect backdrop to the Third International Conference on Small Islands Developing States, the focus of which is genuine and durable partnerships as a means to ensure sustainable development for SIDS.
“The formal opening of UNEP’s presence in the Pacific is a celebration on many fronts, firstly it is a partnership amongst diverse stakeholders, this is a collaborative effort between the United Nations, the United Nations agency, a regional organisation and the Pacific island nations,” said the Prime Minister of Samoa during his keynote address.
“Secondly it is an acknowledgement by the UN community and UNEP's General Assembly that the needs and the realities of the Pacific region are better served when viewed from perspectives on the ground and not from a distance.”
The establishment of this new office is one of the results from the decisions agreed by Member States during the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development- known as Rio+20 - to strengthen the role of the United Nations Environment Programme as the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.
The establishment of the UNEP Office for the Pacific will allow UNEP to strengthen its regional presence, in order to assist countries in the implementation of their national environmental policies as was called for in the Rio outcome document. It will allow UNEP to build on its substantial project portfolios in the Pacific, especially for work on ozone depleting substances and through the GEF funded portfolio of projects covering marine and coastal management, invasive species and waste management.
“We in UNEP take it as a privilege that one of the first decisions that came out of Rio+20 was the strengthening and establishment of sub regional offices for UNEP takes its first step here in Apia Samoa. This sub regional office for the Pacific is the first one that we are establishing,” said Mr. Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP.
“This is our attempt to try to respond on one hand to the demands but also to become part of a United Nations system to deliver more as one. In putting our roots down here in Samoa we hope that our presence will add both to the future choices and work of your government, of your nation and also become an asset to the work to countries across the Pacific.”
The opening of the UNEP Office for the Pacific comes at a critical time for the Pacific countries as they confront the multiple challenges brought by climate change and rising sea levels at the same time as completing their national efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The office will be geared to support the Pacific countries prepare for the post 2015 period and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as to make operational the decisions of Ministers at the United Nations Environment Assembly on critical issues such as chemicals and waste and sustainable consumption and production.
The Pacific office is being hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, a long term partner of UNEP. The SPREP location will enable UNEP to leverage SPREP's extensive experience, expertise and networks in meeting the needs of the Pacific countries.
"SPREP welcomes this as a further strengthening of our long term partnership with UNEP - we see UNEP as a parent, we grew up and went our own way as an organisation and have now come back as partners on an equal footing to serve our Pacific regional members having shared corporate objectives, mandate and programme," said Mr. David Sheppard, Director General of SPREP.
"SPREP looks forward to the technical and funding support that it can utilise in the region to meet these shared objectives and implement the outcomes of Rio+20, the SIDS Conference and the results of the continuing discussions on the post 2015 sustainable development agenda."