In the Pacific, more than 60 participants from 14 countries gathered in Lami, Fiji for a three day meeting that included government representatives from Environment, Fisheries, Land Resource Development and Spatial Planning departments of different Pacific Island Countries, as well as representatives of Pacific regional organizations. The delegation of the European Union for the Pacific opened the workshop with a passionate speech underlining the unique biodiversity assets of the region as well as the opportunities that could be gained by closer regional collaboration on common conservation targets.

During the sessions, participants emphasized the fact that only a comparatively small number of formally protected areas exist in the Pacific Island region and most do not possess the resources to employ protected area managers or rangers. Results of a regional capacity-development needs assessment revealed that countries like Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands have built on traditional sea and land tenure systems and established national networks of locally managed marine areas (LMMAs). The resulting management regimes are locally adapted, highly diverse and often not formally acknowledged by national governments.

The workshop provided the opportunity to gather the diverse set of organizations, communities and projects currently active in the Pacific in one place to share experiences and find synergies which BIOPAMA will help inform and promote. The Indigenous and Community-Conserved Areas (ICCA) registry presented its work, joining the University of the South Pacific, SPREP (Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme), University of Papua New Guinea and a number of NGOs which have been supporting national governments to develop capacity for sustainable natural resource management on the community level.

In the final day-long action planning exercise participants outlined key regional priorities to be considered in designing and implementing a regional capacity development programme and key institutions that could be involved in its implementation. They also proposed objectives for the work of the Regional Observatory and made recommendations for the design and implementation of a regional reference information system. “The character of the Pacific Island region has led to a range of unique solutions concerning sustainable natural resource management,” said Taholo Kami, Regional Director of IUCN Oceania, in his closing speech. “We expect that BIOPAMA, by supporting increased knowledge exchange and effective use of existing traditional and scientific knowledge, will contribute to promoting and consolidating these solutions.”