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By Claire Oiire, PIRT Pacific Biodiversity Coordinator

PIRT members and partners played key roles in a recent series of meetings held in Nadi, Fiji: the Pacific Dialogue on National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), followed by a workshop on Target 3 of the Global Biodiversity Framework, and the UNEP Technical Workshop on the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Early Action Support Project. The meetings were held from 18 - 26 March 2024, and hosted by SPREP in partnership with the CBD Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Government of Fiji as the host country. The events brought together participants from around the Pacific including government representatives and their national, regional, and global partner organisations. A central theme of the meetings was the indispensable role of partner organisations in supporting governments to develop and implement NBSAPs and other biodiversity-related programmes of work. Partner organisations attending these dialogues brought diverse expertise, resources, and perspectives to the table, enriching the NBSAP process and enhancing its effectiveness. 

Such events are crucial for partner organisations to actively participate as they often possess specialised knowledge and experience in various aspects of biodiversity conservation including ecological research, community engagement and policy advocacy. Their presence at the NBSAP Dialogue enhanced the facilitation of knowledge exchange, providing valuable insights and best practices that inform NBSAP development and implementation. Sharing their experiences helps ensure that strategies are scientifically based, contextualised, and aligned with global conservation targets. 

As part of the Pacific NBSAP Dialogue, PIRT member organisations were given the opportunity to outline their areas of expertise relating to NBSAP revision and how they can assist Pacific governments in this task.

The event represented a significant opportunity for PIRT partner organisations to listen and learn from Pacific governments, to hear areas where they need support and training programs, workshops, and technical assistance they can use to equip stakeholders with the necessary tools to effectively review their NBSAPs and then execute the conservation actions outlined. Such capacity building opportunities can foster ownership, enhance institutional capability, and promote long-term sustainability of conservation efforts.

Throughout the discussions it was evident that financing biodiversity conservation initiatives is still a persisting challenge for many countries. Partner organisations are important in mobilising resources and leveraging funding opportunities to support NBSAPs. One of their key roles is facilitating access to grants, philanthropy support and international funding mechanisms, helping bridge the financial gap and ensure adequate resources for priority actions outlined in NBSAPs.

The event in Nadi underscores the pivotal role that PIRT members and partners play to support governments in advancing the objectives and the implementation of NBSAPs towards effective conservation efforts.  The urgency and scale of work that governments and other stakeholders need to undertake to conserve and protect biodiversity means that partnerships are critical.  Partnerships such as PIRT play a multifaceted and indispensable role by leveraging expertise, fostering collaboration, mobilising resources, and supporting capacity building, which contributes significantly to the conservation and sustainable use of resources at national and global levels. As countries strive to meet their biodiversity targets and address emerging challenges, the active engagement of partner organisations will remain essential for achieving meaningful and lasting impacts.

At the annual meeting of the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT) held in Suva, Fiji, PIRT members welcomed the announcement by the Government of New Caledonia at the recent 31st SPREP Meeting in Apia that it will host the next Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas. The most significant regional gathering for conservation, the next Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, will take place in 2025 in Noumea as a partnership of the Government of New Caledonia, SPREP and PIRT.

“Our Pacific islands share a unique marine ecosystem and numerous endemic species both on land and sea that are central to the culture and lives of our people.” said Hon. Jeremie Katidjo Monnier, Minister of Environment of New Caledonia, as he addressed the PIRT meeting. “We take very seriously all the threats that may compromise this environment, including climate change and biodiversity loss. This is why I am very happy to confirm that New Caledonia will host the 11th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas’.

The Conference is organised by the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT), a network of inter-governmental, non-governmental, and donor agencies which are committed to supporting governments and civil society in our Pacific Islands in their efforts to sustainably manage and conserve the region's biodiversity. SPREP is the Secretariat of the Roundtable.

In the shadow of a global biodiversity and climate crisis, Stuart Chape, Director of Island and Ocean Ecosystems at SPREP, said “we are not winning, and we need to all step up and do as much as we can. This conference is a major activity, first held almost 50 years ago when it was known as the National Parks and Reserves conference, and in the last virtual conference in 2020, we had almost 2,000 participants online”.

Mr. Chape highlighted that “the EU funded Pacific BioScapes Programme is directly supporting both PIRT activities and activities being implemented by PIRT member organisations”.

The Pacific BioScapes Programme is a European Union (EU) funded action, managed and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). It contributes to the sustainable development of Pacific Small Island Developing States through the implementation of 30 focused activities taking place across a diversity of ecosystems in Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. These Pacific islands are addressing critical issues concerning coastal and marine biodiversity, and ecosystem-based responses to climate change adaptation.

The current PIRT chair, Margaret West of BirdLife International, spoke of the importance of PIRT: “It introduces us to likeminded individuals with fresh ideas and creates a tribe of inspiring people. The PIRT and the PIRT working groups are coordinating action for our environments, cultures, communities and economies”.

This collaborative process of network building will be brought to the fore at the 2025 Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, which will celebrate 50 years of protected areas conferences in the region.

The Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT) was held in Suva, Fiji from the 16th to the 17th of October, 2023. The meeting agenda can be viewed below.

26th PIRT Annual Meeting agenda UPDATE
Download PDF • 427KB

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