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Monday, July 24, 2006

Paficic Islands Forum Secretariat urges strong base for environmental protection

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) says deeper cooperation on regional environmental protection must be organised around a strong base.

“Such a base could be developed by merging the different agencies that deal with environmental issues/sectors and unite them behind an effective regional environmental framework such as a new Regional Environmental Protection Policy,” Peter Forau, the Forum’s Deputy Secretary General said.

Solomon Islander Mr Forau was speaking at an Informal Roundtable Discussion on “Enforceable Directives for the Protection of the Pacific Environment” in Suva, Fiji, Saturday.

He said because the issue of environmental protection “is so important at least for the island countries, it is possible that deeper regional cooperation in this particular matter can lead to regional integration in other sectors. Already the work programmes of at least five regional agencies include activities related to the environment. This suggests that the cooperation on environmental protection is spreading. However the problem is the systems for this cooperation are fragmented and there is a huge disparity between national requirements and the goals of regional directives,” Mr Forau said.

He said to be able to create a domino effect on regional-wide cooperation, deeper regional cooperation in this particular matter must be effective and inclusive.
And for this to happen environment protection priorities must top the regional agenda.

“At the present these priorities are secondary and lack the prominence to provoke broader regional cooperation in other sectors. This will need to change and perhaps a reconfiguration of the regional agenda to place environmental protection as the key priority is required. This will require new regional directives to bring it to bear.”

Mr Forau argued that if there isn’t a conscious directive to refocus the regional agenda in a way that ticks off environmental protection priorities as prominent then the lead could very well come from development partners.

“When that happens then it is possible that deeper cooperation in environmental protection could provoke integration in other sectors. At the present that is not the case, so it isn’t possible to see deeper cooperation in environmental protection provoking the same in other sectors. It could very well be that the work on the new regional architecture could come up with a system that might hasten this region-wide cooperation on environmental protection,” Mr Forau said.

Examples of Regional Directives for the Protection of the Environment include, management of Distant Fishing Nations (WFN) fishing efforts in national Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), action strategy for Nature Conservation, Pacific Islands Regional Oceans Policy, Whales and Dolphins Action Plan, Marine Turtle Action Plan, Dugong Action Plan, Regional Wetlands Action Plan etc.

Source: Solomon Star

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