PACIFIC COUNTRIES SHARPEN LEGAL INSTRUMENTS TO DEAL WITH GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL

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By Fatu Tauafiafi

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (October 9, 2000/SPREP)---The first in a series of meetings culminating in an Environment Ministers’ Forum in Guam was officially opened this morning.

Forty-six senior officials from 20 Pacific countries are sharpening regional legal instruments that deal with environment issues of concern to the Pacific region.

The Apia and SPREP conventions are examples of regional approaches to global concerns, said Mr. Tamari‘i Tutangata, SPREP's Director. "At this meeting, I would like to urge the parties to the Apia and SPREP conventions to revitalize these important regional conventions so that a solid legal framework will be in operation for the region to better access global opportunities."

Administrator for Guam’s EPA, Mr. Jesus T. Salas, urged the meeting to act now. "We are here for one purpose - to take positive steps to fight the degradation of our Pacific environment."

Mr. Salas emphasized to delegates their important role in helping make the necessary decisions and to initiate a number of changes aimed at strengthening the existing regional legal framework through the Apia and SPREP conventions and related protocols.

The main areas being reviewed for amendment include issues of current importance that are not covered by the Apia Convention, these include: access to genetic resources, benefit sharing and biosafety. On the other hand, the SPREP Convention does not take into account the 1996 amendment to the London Convention.

Making the required changes is necessary to capture and priorities global concerns relevant to the needs of the Pacific islands and to establish an effective legal framework from which to operate. However, such changes will require more resources and commitment to the secretariat by parties to the conventions.

The Apia Convention addresses global concerns in the following areas: to produce essential renewable resources, safeguarding of samples of natural ecosystems, and safeguarding of wildlife and its habitats. These concerns were addressed in the principles set out in the declaration adopted by the UN Conference on the Human Environment in 1972.

The SPREP Convention and its related protocols address the global concern of using the ocean as a dumping site for all kinds of waste, the need to protect the marine environment and the need for emergency responses to pollution, especially from ships at sea. The global legal framework of the SPREP Convention and its related protocols take guidance from: the Law of the Sea, the London Dumping Convention, and the negotiations leading to the Oil Pollution Response Convention.

The Apia Convention (Convention on Conservation of Nature in the South Pacific) and SPREP Convention (Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region and Related Protocols) are important regional frameworks, even if a global framework exists, because even though the environmental concerns may be global in nature, particular regional concerns need to be taken into account so that the global instrument is directly relevant to the region.

 

PACIFIC COUNTRIES SETTING ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA FOR NEXT FOUR YEARS

By Fatu Tauafiafi

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (October 8, 2000 - SPREP/PINA)---Fifteen Ministers of Environment and 60 high-level environment officials from the 26 countries and territories of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) are gathering in Guam.

They will set the region's environment agenda for the next four years of the new millennium.

This biennial technical and policy meeting will decide the intergovernmental agency's activities and directions for the next four years.

It is being opened by Acting Guam Governor Madeleine Bordallo.

This meeting will include a three-day Officials Meeting before the one-day Environment Ministers' Forum on Friday.

It is expected that the Ministers will issue a combined statement voicing the outcomes of the meeting and global agreements of significance to environment protection and sustainable management of the environment of the Pacific.

The Environment Ministers' statement is expected to be presented at the meeting of Pacific Islands Forum leaders to be held in Kiribati later this month.

At the top of the meeting's agenda is the organization’s revised four-year "Action Plan 2001-2004."

A "Corporate Plan 2001-2004," defining the vision and core business of the organization, is also to be considered by the meeting.

Other SPREP program activities being discussed include nature conservation, climate change and variability, pollution prevention, economic development, environmental education and training needs assessment.

There will be a meeting to review the working of the SPREP Convention – the Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region and related Protocols - and the Apia Convention - the Convention on Conservation of Nature in the South Pacific.

For further information, contact: Fatu Tauafiafi in Guam Ph: 671 482 0039; 671 647 1234 Fax: 671 647 1235 Email: [email protected] 

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