South Pacific Ministers Endorse New SPREP Action Plan for 1997-2000
NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (FSM Information Service): December 17, 1996 - South Pacific Ministers attending the SPREP Meeting in Nuku'alofa, Tonga late November this year, endorsed the new SPREP Action Plan for 1997-2000, and appointed Mr. Tarmarii Pierre Tuntangata of the Cook Islands as the new Director of the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), according to a press release from SPREP.
The new SPREP Action Plan is the South Pacific region's framework for a regional approach to address environmental issues that affect the region. It focuses on five key elements: Conservation of Biological Diversity; Climate Change and Integrated Coastal Zone Management; Waste Management; Environmental Management, Planning and Institutional Strengthening; and Environmental Education, Information, and Training.
The overall goal of the plan is to build national capacity in environmental and resource management to improve and protect the environment. Endorsement by Ministers at the SPREP Meeting is a positive step following the decision made by the leaders of the region at the 27th South Pacific Forum - to achieve rapid progress on economic reform and the sustainable management of natural resources.
Decisions made by the Ministers which have significance to the operation of the organization include: a new annual budget reporting format to reflect the structure of the new Action Plan; the SPREP Meetings to convene on a biennial basis (previously held annually); and amendment to the Convention on the Conservation of Nature in the South Pacific Region (Apia Convention) and Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region (SPREP Convention), to transfer the Secretariat role for both Conventions to SPREP.
The Ministers issued a Statement on Environment and Development which places the environment again at the forefront of the regional agenda as it heads towards the 21st century. It stated that Ministers are in agreement that economic and other costs and benefits of environmental initiatives should be considered during economic policy decisions.
The positive decisions made by the Ministers in Tonga augurs well for the future state of the region's environment. SPREP, in connection with the other regional organizations, is now in a position to confidently face the challenges that lay in the future to achieve its mandate as specified by its member countries.
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