Oceania First Voices Workshop Empowers Indigenous Conservation Efforts



Posted on 26 March 2024
Group photo of participants with the chief guest for the opening of the OFV forum, Assistant Minister for Itaukei, Culture, Heritage and Arts, Ratu Isikeli Tuiwailevu. Holiday Inn, Suva.
© WWF-Pacific / Jason Chute
26 March 2024, Suva, Fiji - WWF is proud to announce the commencement of the second Oceania First Voices Workshop, taking place on March 26th and 27th, 2024, at the Holiday Inn in Suva, Fiji.
 
The forum, themed "One Voice, One People, One World," aims to facilitate dialogue, knowledge exchange, and collaboration among indigenous communities across the Oceania region.
 
This event brings together traditional community leaders from Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji, along with representatives from government agencies, national and regional organizations, and invited speakers to engage in dialogue and collaboration towards a more sustainable and equitable future.
 
In his opening remarks, Honourable Ratu Isikeli Tuiwailevu, Assistant Minister for iTaukei Affairs, Culture, Heritage and Arts emphasized the importance of storytelling and sharing among Pacific communities, highlighting the interconnectedness between culture, land, and sustainable practices. He underscored the urgent need for collective action in response to climate change and biodiversity loss, urging participants to engage deeply and share their traditional knowledge and experiences.
 
"Gatherings such as this play a vital role in assuring us all that we are not alone, and that we are all connected in the fight against climate change," remarked Hon. Ratu Tuiwailevu.
 
Dr. Mark Drew, Pacific Director of WWF-Pacific, in his opening remarks highlighting the critical role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in conservation efforts. He emphasized the importance of grounding discussions in scientific understanding and evidence, referencing the recent report titled 'The State of Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Lands and Territories.'

"The report provides unequivocal evidence that addressing the triple planetary crisis—climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution—requires the full inclusion of Indigenous and local communities," stated Dr. Drew.

"WWF-International is committed to redefining our conservation agenda to be more inclusive and just, with robust collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and local communities at its core. We (WWF-Pacific) embody a model of inclusive conservation; it is enshrined in our strategic plan and it is a thread we weave in our conservation tapestry.”
 
Over the course of the workshop, participants will explore strategies for building shared conservation objectives, reshaping partnerships, and advocating for inclusive conservation practices. The event aims to foster mutual learning, innovation, and accountability, with a focus on supporting Indigenous Peoples and local communities in shaping a sustainable future for the Oceania region.
 
Participants will collaborate to develop a roadmap that will help shape and influence key decisions and events at the national, regional, and global levels, accelerating community-led climate action at scale and pace to achieve the necessary impacts based on their truth and lived reality on the ground.
 
The forum is supported by WWF-Australia and WWF-New Zealand
Group photo of participants with the chief guest for the opening of the OFV forum, Assistant Minister for Itaukei, Culture, Heritage and Arts, Ratu Isikeli Tuiwailevu. Holiday Inn, Suva.
© WWF-Pacific / Jason Chute Enlarge
Chief guest Assistant Minister for Itaukei, Culture, Heritage & Arts, Ratu Isikeli Tuiwailevu opening the OFV forum. Holiday Inn, Suva.
© WWF-Pacific / Jason Chute Enlarge
Cliff Cobbo, WWF-Australia’s Senior Manager Indigenous Engagement leading a discussion at the OFV forum opening discussions. Holiday Inn, Suva.
© WWF-Pacific / Jason Chute Enlarge
(L-R) WWF-New Zealand CEO, Kayla Kingdon-Bebb; Assistant Minister for Itaukei, Culture, Heritage and Arts, Ratu Isikeli Tuiwailevu; & WWF-Pacific’s Pacific Director, Dr. Mark Drew. Holiday Inn, Suva.
© WWF-Pacific / Jason Chute Enlarge