Monday, 23 August 2010 10:58 AM

Preparing the "One Pacific" for International Biodiversity Negotiations in October

Press Release - A three day meeting has brought the Pacific region closer together as the 14 island countries prepare to face the world at the 10th Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity in October.

The international agreement was formed to help conserve the worlds biodiversity and establish targets to halt the current rate of biodiversity loss.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) brought together Pacific Island Parties, donors, partners and other interested conservationalists to discuss and deliberate on key biodiversity issues for countries and the region and how they will be approached at the international arena.

"To my mind this has been one of the most effective support meetings," said Mr. Stuart Chape, the Island Ecosystems Programme Manager for SPREP. "I think we have all benefited from this meeting, and SPREP will continue to support you so there is effective engagement and a strong Pacific Voice at the international gathering on Biodiversity in October."

SPREP is now preparing a Pacific brief on the agenda issues that will help the Pacific representatives at the world meeting, SPREP will also assist with a communications plan to raise a 'One Pacific Voice' at side events, exhibitions and media work while at the 2010 Conference of the Parties. The foundation for this work stems from the three day meeting in Nadi, Fiji this week, whereby the 11 Pacific Islands parties reached common ground for a Pacific approach.

"A key highlight for this was to bring the Pacific parties to the Convention together to work out some of the key regional priority issues that they would like to focus on and collectively work together at the 10th Conference of the Parties to present these issues," said Easter Galuvao, the Biodiversity Adviser for SPREP.

"The national priorities are still important for the countries, but the meeting helped to facilitate these to a discussion on the regional level, so they can be promoted together as a Pacific Voice at the international level."

The commitment from the countries and partners to work together in support of each other was also an important highlight at this meeting. Whereas other countries outside of the Pacific can bring larger delegations to support their negotiations at the meeting, Pacific members usually bring one or two member delegations, at the most.

It is at the 2010 Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity that the Pacific can showcase the conservation efforts underway in the region, for which there are many successes. This will also be the opportunity to highlight the challenges the Pacific region is faced with, such as the impact of climate change on our biodiversity, so that international communities and partners may be able to provide the support needed to address these challenges.

"Attending this meeting will require a lot of financial support, the meetings will be very intense and a one person delegation will not be able to cover all the issues they would like, so we are hoping to get some financial assistance from partners."

Seni Nabou of Greenpeace Pacific attended the three day meeting to learn more on the country and Pacific approach at the coming meeting in October, for which she will also be attending.

"I think this meeting was worthwhile for the Pacific, it was a great opportunity to meet the parties attending the international conference in Nagoya and to understand where the Pacific will be in terms of positions and priorities.

The region now has less than two months to finalise strategic positioning at the COP, which will be 10 days of long intense negotiations and meetings. Tania Temata, who represents the Asia Pacific Group on the Bureau for the Convention on Biological Diversity, advises that countries finalise their positions and get ready for the Nagoya meeting.

"When you come to Nagoya, bring your stamina with you, don't leave it behind as you'll need it all the way and be prepared for the long house and for the unexpected, you never know what can happen."

The 10th Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity will be held from 18 to 29 of October in Nagoya, Japan.