IUCN Oceania Regional Office (ORO) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) have convened the latest gathering of the Protected Area Working Group (PAWG) of the Pacific Island Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT) in Suva, Fiji on 16 October. This group encourages collaboration and coordination on protected area issues across the region. Members are made-up of NGOs, academics, donors and government representatives.
In welcoming the participants, Andrew Foran, IUCN Oceania Regional Programme Coordinator representing the PIRT, noted that “it’s an exciting time for protected areas in the region with several significant events approaching, including the Pacific Nature Conservation Conference to be held in New Caledonia in April 2020.”
The proceedings started with each organisation sharing an update on their work and highlighting opportunities for collaboration. This was then followed by a discussion on the PAWG action plan, which tracks activities supporting government partners to achieve the objectives of the Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Islands Region (2014-2020) and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (associated with the Convention on Biological Diversity). The working group also discussed how it could better contribute to these objectives and targets. The participants expressed a strong commitment to maintain the current momentum, with the next meeting planned for February.
The PAWG continues to be an important forum for advising the Biodiversity and Protected Area Management Programme (BIOPAMA) on activities such as enhancing the programme’s regional resource-hub (SPREP Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal or PIPAP), preparing the state of protected areas report and implementing capacity building. BIOPAMA is an initiative of the ACP Group of States financed by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund (EDF). In the Pacific, it is implemented through IUCN ORO in partnership with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and SPREP. Funding from BIOPAMA supported IUCN ORO’s involvement in the working group.
SPREP, in its capacity as Chair of PAWG, plays a key role in assisting to guide regional coordination for progressing national, regional and global priorities, including country commitments to achieve the global biodiversity targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).