Island countries — and countries with islands — announced bold commitments to build resilient and sustainable communities through innovative partnerships at a high level event in Apia, Samoa this week
The event was hosted by H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., President of Palau as Co-Chair of Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) alongside the Seychelles’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Jean-Paul Adam and Grenada’s Minister of State for Information, Communication and Technology, the Honorable Alvin Dabreo during the Third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States (UNSIDS).
“What do all of these leaders have in common? They all have a history of active and progressive support for moving our islands’ sustainability agenda forward and in focusing our efforts on preserving our marine environment,” stated President Remengesau who opened the event.
Some of the highlights:
Palau has committed to advancing protection of oceans by announcing the Palau National Marine Sanctuary. This Sanctuary will establish a no-take that covers more than 80% of the Palau Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) including a highly regulated Fishing Zone that covers approximately 20% of the EEZ and a complete prohibition on purse seine fishing that covers 100% of the EEZ. In addition, Palau will establish a prohibition on fish exports and create a reformed modern domestic commercial long-line fishing fleet with observer oversight on 100% of its vessels.
The President of the Federated States of Micronesia announced that they will allocate USD2.4 million to advancing the Micronesia Challenge, a commitment made by the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam and Republic of the Marshall Islands in 2008 to conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.
The funding will be allocated toward reducing the threat of invasive species through implementation of the Micronesia Biosecurity Plan. “Any national economic development plan that does not give prominent recognition to the environment, is like a rich man with poor health,” stated President Mori.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands provided an update on the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership that has been adopted by 14 Pacific island countries plus Australia and New Zealand as Pacific Island Forum members. Since it was launched in 2013, the United States and State of Hawaii as well as the European Union, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan have signed onto the Declaration. “Whether it be biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods, or climate change we need the courage to work together and encourage others to do the same. As the spirit of the Ho?ku?le’a shows us all, any journey requires great vision,” said President Loeak.
The Prime Minister of Samoa highlighted the Two Samoa’s Initiative as a strategic collaboration to advance climate change resilience planning and action. The Prime Minister challenged other countries and states in Polynesia to join them in a similar partnership to the other regional challenges.
The Republic of Seychelles was joined by Tanzania, Madagascar and Mauritius in launching the Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge (WIOCC) by announcing a series of national commitments that will advance a regional vision to promote action for climate-resilient development that achieves effective conservation of biodiversity, enhanced livelihoods and economies for greater social security among coastal communities in the Western Indian Ocean region.
Seychelles, having already protected more than half its land territory as natural parks and reserves, announced that they would further conservation efforts by establishing marine protected areas covering 30 percent of its 1.4 million square kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone by 2020, half of which will be no-take zones. Seychelles also announced that they would continue to contribute financing toward the GLISPA coordination until 2016.
“An overall objective is for us to take effective ownership of our ocean spaces and of our Blue Economy by inspiring leadership and facilitating collaboration in the islands and coastal states of the Western Indian Ocean,” said Minister Jean Paul.
The President of Zanzibar, representing the United Republic of Tanzania, formally joined the WIOCC. “We consider the WIOCC as an important vessel for our countries in the promotion of sustainable development,” stated President Shein. “Our challenges are identical and it is only proper that we combine efforts to address them.”
In joining the WIOCC, Zanzibar has set targets to declare more than 15% of its coastal and marine ecosystems as marine protected areas and 25% of mangrove under protected forest reserves by 2020 to advance the regional vision. The Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission Mr. Jean Claude de l’Estrac indicated that the IOC would support the WIOCC through projects that will contribute to the regional vision.
The State of Hawai‘i, with the U.S. Government, announced the launch of the Aloha+ Challenge, a joint leadership commitment to sustainability for the State of Hawai‘i led by Governor Neil Abercrombie, Hawai‘i’s four county mayors, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).
The Aloha+ Challenge sets 2030 targets for clean energy transformation, local food production, natural resource management, waste reduction, smart growth, climate resilience, green job creation and education. The Aloha+ Challenge is Hawai‘i’s commitment of collaborative action to sustain our oceans, islands and peoples through an integrated approach.
“We are grateful to GLISPA and other island leaders for inspiring us to make a commitment to conservation and sustainable livelihoods,” said William Aila Jr., Chair of the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources. “We couldn’t imagine a better venue than the UNSIDS Conference to internationally launch Hawaii’s Aloha+ Challenge.”
Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to President Obama for Science and Technology, U.S. Government supported the Aloha+ Challenge stating, “The United States is proud that our island State of Hawai‘i joined this partnership and launched the Aloha+ Challenge as its ambitious commitment to island sustainability and resilience. We look forward to continued collaboration with our U.S. islands and Small Island Developing States as we work to solve shared challenges, such as climate change, the health of our oceans, and energy security.”
Italy, currently the President of the European Union, announced their continued interest in working together to renew and strengthen EU’s championship on island issues. To support this, Italy announced its intention to host an island meeting during the Milan EXPO in 2015 as a “unique opportunity for stocktaking on progress made by SIDS and Donors on the outcomes of Samoa’s Conference, to monitor the commitments made in Samoa and to connect them to the themes of the EXPO.”
Grenada internationally announced Phase 2 of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative a commitment of The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to conserve and protect at least 20 percent of the Caribbean’s marine and coastal environment by 2020 and to create National Conservation Trust Funds, endowed by sustainable finance mechanisms solely dedicated to funding protected area management.
Minister Dabreo stated on behalf of the Prime Minister, “Grenada has demonstrated that partnerships are an imperative, requiring active collaboration with a shared vision of outcomes to benefit our people, driven by the strength of our collective efforts.
The Bahamas announced that they are on track to exceed the Caribbean Challenge Initiative 20% target in advance of the 2020 deadline, and have already established more than 10% of their near-shore coastal areas as protected. In addition, the Bahamas announced the formal passage of the Bahamas Protected Area Fund (BPAF) legislation and made a commitment of USD2 million to the BPAF as an endowment.