Press Release - Bringing the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) closer to the homes of Pacific islanders is one of the key happenings at a gathering in Fiji this week.

Close to forty participants from throughout the Pacific African-Caribbean-Pacific (PACP's) countries are attending a regional capacity building workshop on the Clean Development Mechanism at the IUCN Oceania headquarters in Suva.

The CDM is an important term in the context of the international climate change negotiations. It allows for developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by carrying out climate-friendly projects in developing countries.

The workshop is part of a larger European Union funded project entitled, "Capacity Building related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements in African Caribbean Pacific Countries." This is one of the special events coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to mark 2009 as the Pacific Year of Climate Change.

Mr Epeli Nasome, the Director of Environment in Fiji opened the workshop in Suva this week.

In his statement, Mr Nasome noted that Carbon trading and the CDM has been at the center of discussion in international meetings and negotiations, and he welcomed the opportunity to discuss the issue in the Pacific.

Mr. Nasome challenged workshop participants to utilise the Clean Development Mechanism to result in the improved livelihoods of the communities of PACPs, especially resource owners.

Fiji was the first country in the world to sign the Kyoto Protocol and intends to play a leading role in implementing measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The CDM is fairly new in the African Caribbean Pacific countries. Currently there are only two registered Clean Development Mechanism projects in the Pacific region: the Wainikasaou and Vaturu hydropower project in Fiji and the Lihir Geothermal Power project in Papua New Guinea. The workshop will learn from the experiences from these two projects.

"The scarcity of projects clearly reflects the lack of capacity and awareness about the Clean Development Mechanism in the PACPs. The Kyoto Protocol imposes specific emission reduction targets on Annex 1 parties (developed countries to the treaty), which are binding under international law," explained SPREP's Solomone Fifita, who is coordinating and assisting with the conduct of the workshop.

"These reductions must be achieved during the Protocol's first commitment period. The CDM is therefore one of the win-win mechanisms in the Kyoto Protocol designed to assist Annex 1 Parties to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as cost-effectively as possible while at the same time provide the much needed capital, jobs, trade opportunities and infrastructures to non-Annex 1 countries like the PACPs."

Fifita believes the CDM enables developing countries to take advantage of low-cost opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in other countries rather than relying solely on domestic emission reduction measures, which may be more expensive.

The United Nations Environment Programme RISOE Centre on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development in Denmark is responsible for implementing the CDM capacity-building component with SPREP as the Pacific hub for the project.

The workshop will explore the current status and potential of the CDM activities in Pacific countries, and prepare a work plan based on the common and country-specific capacity building needs of the PACPs. The UNEP RISO Centre and SPREP will then implement this workplan over the next three years.

The workshop is attended by representatives from the power utilities, senior energy and environment officials from the PACPs, Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific agencies, the private sector and NGOs. The workshop will conclude on May 29th.