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Historic first steps towards a Cleaner Pacific

The new strategy – known as Cleaner Pacific 2025 – has been developed through a partnership between the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in consultation with SPREP Member countries and territories.
As well as shaping regional priorities in the area of waste management and pollution control, Cleaner Pacific 2025 recognises the critical importance of managing the pollution of waterways and marine environments and the regional management of hazardous waste and chemicals.

Speaking at the opening of the two-day consultation, Mr Hiroyuki Sawada, resident representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Fiji, acknowledged the significant accomplishments and combined efforts that have already taken place in the sustainable management of waste in the region through initiatives such as J-PRISM:
“JICA has been providing support in this area since 2000 and assisted SPREP to develop the current Pacific Regional Solid Waste Management Strategy (2010-2015) which will be superseded by Cleaner Pacific 2025. We are excited about the opportunities presented by this new strategy, particularly with regard to the promotion of ‘3R + Return’ and south-south cooperation created in Pacific island countries and territories.”

Chair of the proceedings, Mr Aminiasi Qareqare, Acting Director of the Fiji Department of Environment, described the issue of waste management and pollution control as one of greatest challenges facing the Pacific region:
“Waste disposal and pollution are grave threats to sustainable development in the Pacific island region, second only to climate change. But unlike climate change, which we have no direct control over, pollution and waste control is definitely attainable and can be easily realised through controlling waste disposal and strengthening pollution control measures.”

Dr David Haynes, Director of the Waste Management and Pollution Control Division at SPREP, echoed the importance of partnerships in implementing activities under Cleaner Pacific 2025, and noted the assistance provided by JICA and other partners including the European Union in assisting Pacific island communities to improve waste management practices to protect environmental and human health:
“We are very happy to have reached agreement on the draft strategy. Cleaner Pacific 2025 represents an opportunity to establish a better understanding of the status of waste and pollution management for each country in the Pacific region as well as to establish country priorities for the management of these critical issues.”

The new strategy is based on the four goals of preventing waste and pollution, recovering resources from wastes and pollutants, improving management of recyclable items and improving monitoring of the impact of poor waste and pollution management on local environments.

This week’s regional consultation was one of the final stages of the development of the strategy, which was preceded by three consultations specific to the countries and territories of Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia. The final draft document will be presented for endorsement at the annual SPREP Meeting in September 2015.

The regional consultation on Cleaner Pacific 2025 was assisted through support from the European Union-funded PacWaste project. Mr Jesús Laviña, Head of Section for Natural Resources and Infrastructure at the European Union Delegation for the Pacific, Suva, explains that the linkages between PacWaste and Cleaner Pacific 2025 bode well for the future:
“Through this regional integrated strategy, and projects such as PacWaste, we feel confident that we will be able to make some significant inroads towards sustainable waste management in the region. The EU, SPREP PacWaste partnership is an outstanding example of how collaboration can make a significant difference to the health of the Pacific island people and the environment.”

Present at the regional consultation were representatives from American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

Development partners in attendance included the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the European Union (EU), World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the University of the South Pacific (USP).

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