WWF-Pacific positions itself to deliver on regional conservation ambitions

Posted on 26 April 2023
Group photo of WWF-Pacific staff and WWF international guests at Serenity Island, Fiji.
© WWF-Pacific
By Ravai Vafo'ou, Communications Officer, WWF-Pacific

Three months ago, WWF-Pacific's senior management team set an ambitious goal of developing a robust regional conservation strategic plan through a regional participatory approach with its Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands staff. Face-to-face discussions with various Pacific Island teams culminated in a week-long Pacific week bringing everyone together in Fiji. A first for the Pacific Panda family since WWF established its Pacific foothold over three decades ago.
In the run-up to Pacific Week, Hanna Helsingen, WWF-Pacific's Regional Conservation Director, and the Strategic Plan working group conducted workshops and meetings across the three Pacific Island nations to create a collective blueprint for conservation objectives the Pacific wanted to accomplish by 2025. The process enabled the Pacific team to learn, appreciate, unite, and gain a better understanding of the collective efforts required to work with Pacific communities to safeguard their natural resources, habitat and wildlife. Pacific Week also provided a unique opportunity for everyone to gain a better sense of where WWF stands in the area of conservation and where it plans to go in the next two years.
The vision of empowered and resilient Pacific peoples thriving with unique biodiversity by sustainably managing our natural wealth, for our prosperity, culture and future supported by the three Pacific goals of empowered Pacific peoples, integrated oceans management, and a resilient Pacific Nations. 
Pacific Week also provided the opportunity for identified WWF network partners to be part of the learnings and mapping of the Pacific Strategy. Below are some of the reflections from the WWF network leads and WWF-Pacific conservation officers that were part of Pacific week. 
Pepe Clarke, Oceans Practice Leader, WWF-International: It’s been fantastic to see the team coming together, articulating a shared vision. It was a pleasure to spend time with the team and to learn about your important work, from the field and to the international policy arena. There is strong alignment between the marine conservation aspirations of the Pacific team and the strategic priorities of the Oceans Practice, and we look forward to working closely with WWF Pacific in the years ahead. Thank you so much for your hospitality and your continued commitment to conservation in the region. 
Rachael Lowry, Chief Conservation Officer, WWF-Australia: I think the opportunity and challenge ahead is for WWF-Australia and the Pacific to continue to work together to share our vision. Our shared vision, take it to the world. It’s an important vision and we have to achieve it. How do we distill it? How do we distill the mana? Everyone has been so generous in sharing. How do we share that urgency and how do we inspire support behind what is so much more than just saving wildlife and wild places this is about humanity? 2026 could be our moment to get the Pacific and Australia in stepping up on the global stage and finally bringing nature and climate together. 
Lan Mercado, Asia Pacific Regional Director: I feel so privileged to have been here during Pacific week and I’m very sure that the strategy that the Pacific team has worked on puts the Pacific away from the margins and into the mainstream of WWF International and conservation work. Particularly our agenda on oceans and landscapes and marine conservation but also what I am really proud of is that all of this is being done with communities in mind. Putting the Pacific people at the forefront of everything that we do is going to be very important. I’m also quite proud of the achievement that has been done here not only this week but the achievement that started here will go forward until 2025 and I want everyone to know that the Pacific is flying its flag high with all of its colours. 
Johan Bergenas, Senior Vice President of Oceans, WWF-US: What stands out for me is the amazing reach WWF-Pacific has into local communities. We are very close to the work and there is a real partnership here. Mutual dependency between WWF-Pacific and the communities that we serve to achieve nature positive outcomes in this part of the world. And to see the decades of work and commitments that have gone into the people and the natural environments that we serve is truly the advantage that our organisation has and it is made possible through great people like WWF-Pacific. This is a partnership and we are listeners in the WWF-US Oceans team we are trying to understand what you are trying to accomplish here in the region and in turn how we can support those ambitions. We have a strategy at a higher level where we have identified the South West Pacific Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands specifically as priority seascapes and we look forward to partner with you on some of the technical subject matter expertise scientific and project management issues that we hear from you is needed and so you will have our support in those and other areas to achieve your objectives and our mutual objectives for healthier oceans.
Rebecca Samuel, Coastal & Marine Programme Manager, WWF-Pacific (PNG): As a result, we have always dealt with the three Pacific nations independently. So, I believe that our planning has been separate, and that we have been striving for higher sets of goals or directions that we can all strive towards. This strategy allows aligning our strategy outcomes to our global goals and using our strategy outcomes to direct our fundraising efforts is critical, as is focusing on projects/donors/support that will assist the three country programmes in achieving the strategy outcomes by 2025 rather than being dictated by project/donor requirements.  
Minnie Rafe, CBFM Programme Coordinator, WWF-Pacific (SI): What stuck out for me was the strong team spirit that built out this strategic plan, and I believe that moving forward, it will help us work towards achieving this strategic plan while also giving us a sense of ownership. 
Semi Sauliga, North Field Officer of WWF-Pacific (Fiji): The opportunity to share and learn from community representatives from other Pacific Island nations was a significant takeaway for me. How I can use their experiences to improve my interactions with the communities I deal with in Fiji. I am honored to be a part of this learning process and to contribute to our Pacific strategy plan.
Dr. Mark Drew, Director, WWF-Pacific: The Pacific is illustrative of both the significant imperative as well as opportunities to advance a robust conservation agenda that will benefit people and nature. I am very encouraged by the growing recognition of the important relationship(s) that exist between oceans, climate, biodiversity and communities. Pacific Week provided a unique opportunity for the first time in WWF-Pacific’s history to unite our entire team around a new, revised strategic plan and confirm a pathway forward working in the region. Pacific Week also provided a very special opportunity to continue building and strengthening our partnerships with colleagues from around the WWF Network and in doing so, further collective action to affect positive change. Creative engagement, robust discussions, art and sharing set the foundation for a successful Pacific Week and now, building on nearly 30 years in the region, WWF- Pacific and partners are charting a new course. Plenty of work to do, plenty of needs but we’ve reached a critical point which sets our trajectory for years to come.
Group photo of WWF-Pacific staff and WWF international guests at Serenity Island, Fiji.
© WWF-Pacific Enlarge
Johan Bergenas, Senior VP of Oceans, WWF-US in discussion with WWF-Pacific colleagues.
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A group discussion with WWF-Pacific staff and WWF International participants.
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WWF-Pacific PNG team going through their skit.
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WWF-Pacific Solomon Islands team members.
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Solomon Islands Team sharing a bit about the SI work to WWF-International partners.
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WWF-Pacific and WWF-International participants pose for an impromptu photo.
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