21 October 2011, Changwon Korea - Several Pacific island nations were given a special mention during the last meeting of the Asia Pacific Group at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in Korea today.The increasingly positive involvement of the Pacific Island delegates in negotiations was mentioned on several occasions. Compliments have been made on the growing numbers of Pacific island delegates attending the UNCCD negotiations as well as their active participation.
"In the past I have not seen such active participation from the Pacific islands but more recently I have noticed our friends from the Pacific are not only engaging themselves in the contact group but also negotiating the text with our European Union and African friends," said Chencho Norbu the Director of the Department of Agriculture from Bhutan. He was also the Chair of the Committee of the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC).
"I was very pleased to note this development and I am saying that I hope this will continue in the future. If we move forward collectively we can raise our Asian and Pacific voice and this is something, it's a big step and I feel proud to be a part of the Asia Pacific region."
Bhutan ratified this convention in 2003 and Norbu began following and attending the negotiations in 2004. At this Conference, Norbu's term as the Chair of the CRIC comes to an end. The Chairs of the different committees are rotated amongst the sub regions at each Conference of the Parties.
Bruce Jefferies - Terrestrial Ecosystems Management Officer at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme commented that it was satisfying to hear comments such as this.
"It demonstrates that the investments made in SPREP facilitated Conference of the Party preparatory meetings are helping to build the capacity of Pacific Island staff."