With the aim to strengthen the management and governance of protected areas in the Pacific region, close to one hundred participants from governments, NGO stakeholders and partners convened in Apia, Samoa on 11 June, 2018 for the inception workshop of the second phase of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme.
In welcoming the participants, Afioga Taefu Lemi Taefu, Hon. Associate Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Government of Samoa acknowledged the significance of protected areas. “The protected areas that exist today were established to protect the best remaining natural terrestrial, coastal and marine areas in our region. This is to ensure sustainability of these areas for the benefit of not only our generation but for many generations to come”
In his opening remarks, Hon. Minister Taefu also highlighted some of the challenges that were faced by Pacific island countries.
“One of the region’s major challenges to sustainable development, especially for small island developing states is the lack of data and information. The issue for Samoa is not the accessibility of data, but rather, the availability of data. This week is a kind reminder of what needs to be done” Hon. Minister Taefu continued.
The BIOPAMA programme is an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States financed by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund , jointly implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (EC-JRC). In the Pacific region, BIOPAMA is implemented by IUCN’s Oceania Regional Office (IUCN ORO) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
The partnership between IUCN ORO and SPREP has seen the enhancement of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP), the ‘one-stop shop’ for all information on Protected Areas maintained by SPREP with partners and Members. Through BIOPAMA, the EC-JRC is also contributing essential technical support to the PIPAP. “The PIPAP, established prior to but then supported and strengthened by BIOPAMA, will play a key role as an interactive repository of data and learning tools for protected areas planning and management. It will continue to help measure our progress towards meeting Aichi Target 11 on protected area commitments”, Acting Director General of SPREP Stuart Chape commented.
“In forging ahead, we need to pause and remind ourselves of the unique context of protected areas in the Oceania region that requires a high level of consultation and innovative solutions and approaches.” IUCN ORO Regional Director Mason Smith emphasized.
ACP representative Edmund Jackson, in his address also reiterated the importance of partnership. “Essentially, each agency is a particular piece of the puzzle and the workshop will see where each of you will fit to help implement the BIOPAMA programme as best as possible. The implementing partners must ensure that everybody has a role to play” Mr Jackson noted.
Recognising the significance of the five-day workshop, EC-JRC’s Stephen Peedell highlighted how the workshop would be a great opportunity to address the fundamental questions faced by the BIOPAMA programme. “How can we ensure that our improved knowledge of protected areas really does drive better decisions, better outcomes and improved effectiveness?”
“How can we make that step from knowledge to action for a protected planet?” Mr Peedell concluded.
Bringing together a wide range of expertise from the region to collectively review protected area records and discuss ways to improve data and information sharing amongst key partners, the BIOPAMA inception workshop will run from 11th to 15th June at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.