This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
SPREP originated in 1969 when a Regional Symposium on the Conservation of Nature recommended the appointment of a regional ecological adviser to the South Pacific Commission (SPC), which eventuated in 1973.
SPC, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Cooperation (now the Forum Secretariat) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) then agreed on the need for a comprehensive environment programme for the region.
Proposals were submitted to the South Pacific Forum (the annual meeting of Heads of Government of Pacific countries) and the South Pacific Conference (the annual gatherings of representatives of all the region's states and territories). These resulted in the formal establishment of SPREP as a joint initiative of the Forum and SPC with funding from UNEP and ESCAP. SPREP reported to the South Pacific Forum and the South Pacific Conference, with an executive provided by a coordinating group with representatives from these four organisations, chaired by the Forum. This new programme was administered from SPC's headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia.
A Conference on the Human Environment in the South Pacific, held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, decided to set up SPREP as a separate entity with SPC, and produced an Action Plan for Managing the Natural Resources of the South Pacific Region (the Action Plan) to guide its future activities. This document, revised in 1991 and 1996 remains the principle focus of SPREP's activities at the time.
The Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region (the SPREP Convention) was adopted at a SPREP meeting in Noumea and entered into force in 1990. The Convention aims to protect and manage the natural land and marine resources of the region, and contains two protocols - on waste dumping and on co-operation to combat pollution emergencies.
When the SPREP Meeting became an annual event, the steering committee was terminated, and the South Pacific Forum (now PIFS) established a new committee to report on strengthening SPREP's capacity. This was in response to the gaining momentum of supports from SPREP members to make it an official autonomous organisation.
During the annual (Ministeral) SPREP Meeting, deliberations over SPREP's Action Plan, and financial and legal implications of autonomy led to SPREP becoming official autonomous. It was also during this meeting that the Ministers accepted an offer from the Government of Samoa to host the new organisation in Apia, Samoa.
SPREP moved its headquarters to Apia. The initial site at Vaitele was only temporary, meant to see through the final stages of formal establishment as an autonomous intergovernmental organisation.
On the 16 June, the SPREP Treaty (Agreement Establishing SPREP) was signed in Apia, Samoa. This established SPREP as an independent intergovernmental organisation.