Governments and NGOs pledge support for coral reefs and small island development
“We have a vision. We have agreed goals. What we need is high level political commitment for marine conservation and protected areas,” the UN Secretary General said while attending an international meeting of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Port Louis, Mauritius. “The United Nations system shares its strong devotion to this effort.”
Pledges of over US$20 million were made by governments and non-governmental organizations, including WWF, the International Coral Reef Action Network, and the Nature Conservancy, to support networks of marine protected areas in small island developing states around the world.
“The financial support will enable the island states to turn political commitments into actions on the ground to increase the resilience of natural systems and generate jobs, income and food security today and for future generations,” said Sian Owen, Coordinator of WWF's Coral Reef Advocay Initiative.
Also at the meeting, Fiji’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Kaliopate Tavola, announced that by 2020, at least 30 per cent of Fiji’s oceans and coastal waters will become part of a national network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
“Nurturing environmental sustainability as one of the main pillars of sustainable development is necessary to enhance our cultural and economic survival,” he said.
“Consolidating our national networks of marine protected areas is a mainstay for national incomes, coastal livelihoods and traditional cultures, and goes hand in hand with the provision of alternative sources of livelihood.”
Fiji, together with several nations, was commended for showing global leadership in its national efforts to advance the goals set at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, which links marine conservation with poverty alleviation and sustainable development. These efforts will also lead to delivery on the marine and coastal protected areas targets set out in the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) network group — a partnership of communities, government, and local and international organisations, including WWF — was also highlighted for its effective approach to marine conservation. To date, 410 units of traditional fishing areas across the Fiji archipelago, which consists of over 300 islands and 29 coastal districts, are in various stages of implementing management plans.
“When we first heard from WWF that our reef was the world’s third largest barrier reef, we realised that we had to protect it for ourselves and future generations,” said Ratu Tui Macuata, Paramount Chief of Fiji’s Great Sea Reef.
“It takes leadership to realise such a paradigm shift, but this is what we have achieved. Now all our villages are looking forward to developing management plans with our partners and seeing our commitments come to life on the reef itself.”
• 37 island nations are attending the UN conference on Small Island Developing States from 10-14 January in Mauritius to discuss challenges from natural disasters to climate change and threats from HIV/AIDS. It will discuss as a matter of priority the need for better preparedness in small islands against natural disasters such as tsunamis and cyclones.
• At present, 43 Small Island Developing States and territories are included in the list used by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in monitoring the progress in the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA). Theses States and territories often work together through the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
For further information:
Sian Owen, WWF Global Marine Programme
Kesaia Tabunakawai, Regional Programme Director
WWF South Pacific Programme