Over 50 delegates across the Pacific Island region convened in Nadi to officially launch the Global Environment Facility (G.E.F) Pacific Ridge to Reef programme aimed at improving the livelihoods and opportunities of Pacific Islanders through local actions to conserve and rehabilitate their environments.
The five-day G.E.F Pacific R2R programme launch and workshop included representatives from participating Pacific Island countries, the (G.E.F) Secretariat, the Pacific Community (S.P.C), the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (F.A.O), United Nations Environment Programme (U.N.E.P), and other regional development partners.
A “whole of island” approach ensures that policies, multiple sectors, agencies and community interests are properly considered and integrated to ensure sustainable development through participatory planning and management of resources.
The five-year programme aims to guide coordinated investment of the US$91 million package of G.E.F grants, and US$333 million of co-financing from the participating countries and other development partners.
The G.E.F Secretariat International Waters Focal Area Lead, Christian Severin, explained: “The G.E.F Pacific R2R programme aims to deliver tangible and quantifiable local and global environmental benefits by focusing on cross-cutting approaches to water, land and coastal management with linkages across G.E.F focal areas.”
“We are excited that participating countries will have the opportunity to strengthen their capacity to successfully demonstrate and transfer technology to support targeted vulnerable areas, improve livelihoods and public health, and upscale their effective mainstreaming efforts to support countries in achieving their sustainable development goals,” he continued.
U.N.D.P Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director and Head of Policy and Programmes, Bakhodir Burkhanov, in his remarks said: “Operating across 14 Pacific Islands, the Ridge to Reef programme provides an opportunity for participating countries to develop and implement integrated approaches for the sustainable development of island economies and communities.”
“Importantly, the outcomes of this programme will also provide valuable insights and lessons learned that can be shared for replication between countries in the Pacific, and with similar initiatives covering other small island developing states for replication and scaling up,” he explained.
Mr. Burkhanov continued: “U.N.D.P is pleased to be the lead agency for this Regional Programme consisting of 13 National Projects that are directly implemented by the countries and a regional programme support project implemented by the Pacific Community. The three U.N.D.P Offices in the Pacific – in Fiji, Samoa and P.N.G – support implementation of most of the national projects and the regional project, and will closely coordinate with the other UN agencies and the SPC to ensure achievement of programme objectives.” Coordination and technical support is provided by S.P.C, the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region. S.P.C Deputy Director–General, Dr Audrey Aumua, said: “S.P.C recognises the importance of integrated approaches to complex issues in our region, particularly for small island developing states in order to improve their capacity to reach their sustainable development aspirations.” “At S.P.C we place a great deal of emphasis on major cross-cutting issues, such as sustaining ecosystem services, climate change adaptation, disaster risk management, food and water security, gender equality, human rights, non-communicable diseases and youth employment. This programme is a great example of this,” she added.
“We are proud to partner with the G.E.F, its implementing agencies and Pacific small island developing states in delivering this very important environmental initiative, by connecting people and supporting them in conserving their environment for sustainable and enhanced livelihoods and resilience,” Dr Aumua said.
Based with S.P.C’s Geoscience Division, the Regional R2R Programme Coordinator, Marc Wilson, said: “The Pacific R2R programme brings innovation and opportunity to the region through an R2R or ‘whole-of-island’ natural resource management approach.”
“This approach supports locally driven solutions and mobilizes communities to take local action with global benefits, and be active participants in local level decisions related to their environment and part of a community to cabinet policy making process,” he added.
The G.E.F Pacific R2R Programme aims to support PacSIDS in addressing national priorities and development needs while delivering local and global environmental benefits across multiple G.E.F focal areas, including: biodiversity, land degradation, international waters, sustainable forest management, climate mitigation and adaptation and capacity development.
Participating countries include: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia , Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshal Islands , Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.