6th South Pacific Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas
(28 October 1997)
[This article is reprinted from Wetlands International - Asia Pacific news: week beginning 20 October 1997.]
Island Conservationists Brainstorm in Pohnpei
From 29 September to 3 October 1997 Wetlands International - Oceania Manager, Roger Jaensch, represented Wetlands International at the "6th South Pacific Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas", held in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. More than 160 persons attended, comprising delegates from conservation agencies of the 22 Pacific Island countries & territories as well as representatives from regional and international conservation organizations and national and local NGOs.
The conference aimed to develop a "Toolbox for Conservation", relevant to the Pacific Islands, based on four main tools: marine protected areas; enterprise development and conservation incentives; environmental trust funds; and World Heritage Convention, and to revise the "Action Strategy for Nature Conservation in the Pacific Islands 1994-8" and prepare the 1999-2002 version. Each of the tools was debated in small working groups, and recommendations on how they could be applied were generated through consensus.
Wetlands, particularly coral reefs and mangroves but also freshwater types, were considered alongside other ecosystems under work done on each of the general tools. Wetlands International presented a paper entitled "Value-adding for wetland protected areas through Ramsar listing" and attempted to ensure that the potential of the Ramsar Convention as a tool for conservation was given sufficient profile.
Since the conference, which is held every four years, is the premier gathering of conservation practitioners in the Pacific Island region, this provided a unique opportunity for Wetlands International to follow up on wetland initiatives with key people from throughout the region. It was also conducive to developing new partnerships with like-minded NGOs and to identifying potential funding agencies. Discussions also revealed that the Republic of Palau is making encouraging progress on accession to the Ramsar Convention.