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From Young Pacific Environment Advocate to Technical Expert with SPREP

A historic step for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme has seen its work in building the capacity of Pacific youth come full circle.

For the first time, the inter-governmental regional organisation has branched out, recruiting a technical expert in the water sector to be based in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). This position will provide technical advice to the water sector in the North Pacific.

Ms. Moriana Phillip from the Marshall Islands has only recently taken on this role but she is no stranger to the organisation.  She was also part of the inaugural Pacific Future Environment Leaders Forum coordinated by SPREP in 2005, which led to the formation of the Econesians youth group founded by a collection of 10 students of the University of the South Pacific.

“We were fortunate enough that SPREP funded us, brought us to Apia to be part of the Pacific Future Environment Leaders Forum which then empowered us to return back to Fiji and develop our mission statement and our ambitions and commitments,” said Ms. Phillip.

“The Econesians have continued to grow over the years from 10 founding members in 2005 to over 300 members now.”

Now as a technical SPREP staff member providing strategic advice and technical expertise on water issues, Ms. Phillip’s environment background and experience will help provide strong support in the Northern Pacific.

Having completed a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science and a Post Graduate Climate Change Adapation course at the University of the South Pacific, Ms. Phillips worked with the Applied GeoScience Commission as an Integrated Water Resources Management Project Manager in the RMI before continuing her education completing a Masters Degree in Water Management in Australia at the University of Queensland.

She was awarded the prestigious Australian Prime Ministers Award, working three months with the International Water Centre (IWC) in Brisbane.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for SPREP to expand its work in the north and to help really encourage ownership of the projects the organisation is doing.  It really is a challenge but I am looking forward to it,” said Ms. Philips.

“The government of the Marshall Island is very supportive of this work that will contribute greatly to the water sector.”

Part of Ms. Phillip’s role is to provide strategic and technical advice, support and assistance; facilitate and coordinate water inputs within the water sector, strengthen networking and capacity building to find ways to enhance national capacities for the water sector in the North Pacific.

She was involved in the development of the national water and sanitation policy, which is a result of coordination between different groups including the Government of the Marshall Islands, the Applied GeoScience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, SPREP and local stakeholders.

Having had the opportunity to complete a number of different internships in between achieving her educational qualifications Ms. Philips will continue with her key passion, advocating our Pacific people and youth to become environment leaders.

“We must involve our youth in promoting environmental awareness because they are our future and we are facing so many challenges.  Being in this position gives me an opportunity to be on the ground and continue this personal commitment towards environment protection that I started as a young person.  I like that.”

The Pacific Future Environment Leaders’ Forum was initiated in collaboration with the Pacific Youth Environment Network (PYEN) of the United Nations Environment Programme.

In 2010, the Future Leaders Forum was re-launched as the Pacific Emerging Environment Leaders’ (PEEL) Network. Both networks continue today supporting the involvement of youth and young professionals in environmental leadership.

The most recent gatherings of the two networks were in June and December 2013 respectively. SPREP currently employs two staff members who were part of the inaugural meeting in 2005.

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