SPREP Director General, Mr Kosi Latu, speaking to officially open the Pacific Environment Forum 2017.
SPREP Director General, Mr Kosi Latu, speaking to officially open the Pacific Environment Forum 2017.

22 September, 2017. Pacific countries gathered at the 2017 Pacific Environment Forum, an annual meeting for environment officials, in Apia on Monday, 18 September.

This year’s theme for the Forum was “Connecting the Dots: Environment, Knowledge, and Governance”, featuring interactive sessions relating to improving the consolidation of data, information, and knowledge in initiatives dealing with various aspects of environmental management in the Pacific region.

“This Forum presents a great opportunity for us to exchange and share ideas, experience and lessons on a range of concrete actions taken to respond to, and address some of the pressing environmental issues facing our region” remarked Mr. Kosi Latu, Director General of SPREP.

Niue and the Republic of Marshall Islands, highlighted that during the development of their State of Environment (SOE) reports, they found that obtaining environmental data, and its analysis and interpretation was very important to support planning, policy and decision-making processes at the national level.

“Niue is fostering a data collection culture, where the collection of data is just as important as understanding why and the type of data that is being collected,” said Dr. Josie Tamate, Director General of the Niue Ministry of Natural Resources.

Director General of the Niue Ministry of Natural Resources, Dr Josie Tamate, takes part in a panel discussion at the Pacific Environment Forum 2017
Director General of the Niue Ministry of Natural Resources, Dr Josie Tamate, takes part in a panel discussion at the Pacific Environment Forum 2017

SkyEye, a local Geospatial company in Samoa, demonstrated that innovative tools and technologies, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVS) or drones, can also help with the collection of data that will improve planning and management.

“We have seen more Member countries using the SOE and National Environment Management Strategies (NEMS) processes to support implementation and reporting under various Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs),” said Ms. Easter Galuvao, Director of Environmental Monitoring and Governance for SPREP.

A growing trend in our region is bringing together the various national and regional agencies that are involved in managing fisheries, maritime transport, environmental management and sustainable coastal development under the banner of Integrated Ocean Management. Compliance and enforcement, as well as environmental impact assessments, were also strong themes discussed throughout the Forum recognising the need to strengthen capacity in these areas.

The Forum ended with a field visit to the Vaisigano estuary, where participants were given the opportunity to visit an active Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) site in Apia. The trip was coordinated in partnership with the Planning and Urban Management Agency of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) of Samoa.

The 2017 Pacific Environment Forum was made possible with financial contribution from the European Union-funded African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Multilateral Environmental Agreements Project, implemented through UN Environment and executed by SPREP. 

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