WWF-Pacific conveys appreciation award to Prime Minister
Presenting on behalf of WWF’s International Director General was WWF-Pacific’s Conservation Director Francis Areki, who conveyed his appreciation for supporting WWF's initiatives in the global arena.
The Prime Minister was also provided an update on progressive steps taken towards strengthening global commitments in protecting and safeguarding the health and integrity of Fiji’s Great Sea Reef (GSR) and that this important work had started 15 years ago with former WWF Representative and GSR champion Kesaia Tabunakawai .
“Through the 15 years, we have worked with partners in communities in the 4 provinces bordering the Great Sea Reef (Macuata, Bua,Ba, Ra) we worked with farmers through their associations, the private sector, civil society sector , government agencies, regional agencies as well as international funders, donors and investors in trying to get them around to understand the idea and to support this,” Tabunakawai said.
In delivering his presentation, WWF-Pacific’s Conservation Director highlighted how WWF is leading a global initiative known as the Global Coral Reef Rescue Initiative (GCRRI) to sustain and restore the health of coral reef ecosystems for nations that are reef dependent.
“The GCRRI focusses on a portfolio of the world’s most climate-resilient reef and these are located across seven countries which are Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Philippines, Madagascar, Tanzania and Cuba,” he said.
He added that these climate resilient reefs are capable of best withstanding anticipated future climate changes and providing the necessary coral material to repopulate other degraded coral reefs.
“These reefs provide essential habitat for fisheries and tourism along with protection for coastal infrastructure and assets against seal level rise and increasing storm surge, making the socio-economic welfare of coastal communities closely linked with reef health,” he said.
These priority reefs were identified during a global reef assessment conducted with GCRRI partners, including the University of Queensland.
The GSR Resiliency Programme is a 10 year innovative sustainable and resilient Blue Economy Business model that was developed through many years of consultations and planning at the local, national, regional and international level. A first of its kind in the Pacific, this pilot programme is intended to transform business as usual within the Great Sea Reef land and seascape into a sustainable Blue-Green Economic model, focusing first on the communities in the provinces of Ba, Ra, Bua and Macuata.
Mr Areki added that the 10 year project is expected to roll out in three phases and is a cross sector land and marine use plan targeted at providing natural resource alternatives to address the immediate impacts of sea level rise on affected communities; the second phase focuses on the launch of funds targeted at integrating grant financing for community based industry; while the third component will develop knowledge and learning products from interventions at the country and local levels, along with institutional connections to support replication and scaling of successful approaches in other Pacific Island nations.