Pacific's biggest conservation conference ended in Alotau last Friday
During the closing ceremony which was officially closed by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare with words of encouragement and a challenge to appreciate the real value of oceans, it was also announced that the Republic of Marshall Islands will be hosting the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas. Fiji is the secondary choice in the event that the Marshall Islands will not be able to host the conference in 5-years time.
The 5 days of deliberation to carve a way forward that will help save our biodiversity, livelihoods and communities have led to 4 main objectives in the 2008–2012 action strategy; to identify, conserve and sustainably manage priority sites, habitats and ecosystems; protect and recover threatened species or species of ecological, cultural and economic significance; manage threats to biodiversity, especially climate change impacts and invasives species; livelihoods and community development are ecologically and economically sustainable and achieve community needs and aspirations.
According to Sir Somare, Pacific Island Nations have worked well together in the past and the cooperation on environmental issues has been critical for the sustenance of Pacific communities.
"We can, together again, take a bold step in changing the ways in which we use and manage our oceans and its natural resources to grow our economies,” said Sir Michael.
The closing of the regions biggest conservation conference also saw over 350 participants advised to ‘act now’ by Taholo Kami the Chair of the Roundtable of Nature Conservation. In his speech during the closing ceremony he acknowledged the lesson learnt from this conference is the Pacific must recognise conservation is not just about biodiversity if it is to move forward.
“It is all about how we choose to live and the kind of world we want our children and grand children to enjoy. If we choose a path of sustainability, to live in peace with each other and in harmony with our environment – conservation will be an achievable outcome and long term prosperity is likely in spite of the undeserved threats of climate change.”
The 8th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas is coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with assistance from the host nation, Papua New Guinea as well as numerous other partners. Director Asterio Takesy has committed the SPREP staff to continue working with the Roundtable for Nature Conservation and countries and territories to assist with the effective implementation of the action strategy.
“The main message from this conference is that all of us working in conservation in this region must focus on empowering our pacific island people and communities to drive the conservation agenda across the region. In this region more than any other conservation objectives cannot be achieved without recognizing the intimate connection between biodiversity and livelihoods.”
The next conference will be held in 2012.