Ramsar and partners took part in a fact-finding and consultation mission in the Republic of Kiribati in December 2013, for the GIZ-SPREP-IUCN project on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Management in the Pacific Island Countries (MACBIO). Vainuupo Jungblut, Ramsar Officer for Oceania (ROO) based at SPREP in Samoa, represented Ramsar and SPREP at the meeting. The mission team also included officials from IUCN Oceania and GIZ.
Kiribati is one of five Pacific island countries participating in the project, which is designed to improve the management of marine and coastal biodiversity through three activities:
• economic evaluation of the ecosystem services provided by intact coastal and marine wetland habitats including mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs ;
• development of a spatial planning framework to align multiple resource uses across the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the offshore area over which it has particular rights;
• dissemination of best practice in the management of marine protected areas.
The three-day mission included extensive individual consultations with public and non-governmental stakeholders to introduce the project and its outputs and to gather information and views for planning and designing the Kiribati component. At a workshop held on 11 December to consolidate feedback on each of the project components, representatives of NGOs and the Departments of Fisheries, Environment, Tourism, Culture, Foreign affairs, Internal affairs, Lands, Agriculture, Ports, Works, Education and Health considered how the project could build on and complement existing work in their sectors. In general, they expressed their willingness to engage with different project components.
The national executing agency for the MACBIO, the Ministry for Environment, Lands and Agriculture Development (MELAD) is also the Ramsar Administrative Authority for Kiribati. It is likely that Kiribati’s first Ramsar Site, Nooto-North Tarawa, will be one of its project sites under the MACBIO. Vainuupo Jungblut followed up with MELAD on the workplan which Kiribati agreed when it joined the Convention and on work undertaken under the extended Small Grants Fund project.
During a meeting with the Permanent Secretary for MELAD, he learned that Kiribati is considering designating Kiritimati (Christmas) Island as its second Ramsar Site. Kiritimati Island, one of the northern Line Islands of Kiribati, is the largest coral atoll in the world and famous as an important breeding ground for many species of seabirds.
Report by Vainuupo Jungblut, Ramsar Officer for Oceania (ROO)