14th July 2011, Apia, Samoa - In an important new initiative, Pacific Finance and Environment Ministers will come together in Apia this month to discuss opportunities and challenges for building green economies in the region.

The Apia meeting is the first in a series of preparatory meetings for Pacific small island developing states in the lead up to a major global UN Conference on Sustainable Development that is scheduled to take place next year in Rio de Janeiro.

The Rio+20 Conference, as it is known, will mark the 20th anniversary of the first "Earth Summit" held in Rio in 1992. The two key themes are: "a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication" and "the institutional framework for sustainable development."

The green economy is aimed at ensuring economic growth is environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. It involves a transformation in development values and priorities, as well as in the way our economies function.

The green economy concept has arisen in the wake of major global financial, energy and ecological crises, including the growing challenges of climate change. It recognizes the importance and value of preserving and investing in the environment, our natural resources and biodiversity, both on the land and in the ocean. This is necessary if we are to satisfy food security and other basic needs for present and future generations, and to produce fair and just development outcomes.

The Apia meeting will be hosted by the Government of Samoa in collaboration with the United Nations System (UN) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Speaking at the 4th UN Conference for Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, Turkey in May this year, the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, explained that Samoa had decided to host this preparatory meeting for the Pacific "to underscore the importance of the Rio+20 process".

He also said that the Apia meeting was an opportunity to highlight the "Pacific's push" to ensure that marine and ocean issues are integrated into the 'sustainable development architecture'.

The two-day meeting in Apia will have a one-day Ministerial dialogue, and an open forum on green growth for representatives of development organizations, civil society groups and the private sector as well as Pacific Leaders and Ministers.

The open forum will consist of a number of public seminars, field visits to community biogas and bio-fuel projects, and displays of green materials, goods and services. The purpose of the event is to promote wider discussion and understanding of the issues relating to the main green economy theme of Rio+20.

The Apia meeting will take place on 21-22 July 2011.