Countries of the Region
The Oceania region is spatially the largest region in CEM, It includes the continental land mass of Australia and covers a vast area of the Pacific including the larger island land masses of Papua New Guinea and New Zealand as well as the 22 countries and territories of the Pacific Islands covering most of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The region extends over 100 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean, but has only a land surface area of 8.5 million square km. Of that land surface area three countries Australia (7 million km2), Papua New Guinea (463,000 km2) and New Zealand (268,000 km2) make up almost 93% of the total land area. The countries and territories within the Oceania Region include American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Island, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.
Whilst the region is vast it is also the least populous, with a total human population estimated to be approximately 39 million. Of this Australia has 24.3 million, Papua New Guinea 7.6 million and New Zealand 4.4 million. Approximately 2.7 million people inhabit the various Pacific Island countries and territories outside of these larger land masses. Even though the region contains only 0.5% of the world’s population it is well represented in the IUCN and CEM in particular. Oceania has almost 7% of total global members of CEM, with Australia making up almost 5% of total members of the commission. Oceania members are also quite active within CEM activities and organisation with three of the Thematic Group leaders coming from this region.
Two other factors also make the Oceania region very different to the other regions of CEM and these differences can and should affect the focus of Oceania CEM. Firstly, the very name of the region gives a good hint at the relative spatial and environmental dominance of marine issues for most countries and territories. Yet at the same time there are vast and highly diverse terrestrial systems and significant environmental problems in the larger land masses. Secondly, there is a large gap between the economic development status of two of the countries and the rest of the region. Oceania, contains both some of the richest and some of the most disadvantaged nations in the Globe. Australia and New Zealand are both countries in the top 10 of the UN Human Development Index (Australia is ranked 2 and New Zealand 9) but also five countries within the region are officially classified as forming part of the Least Developed Countries (Kiribati, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Timor leste and Vanuatu). The rest of the countries tend to fall into the lower middle of the HDI rankings and all bar New Zealand and Australia are considered Small Island Developing States.
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Collaboration with key Regional IUCN bodies
Along with the regional Vice chairs and contact points for the other IUCN commissions there are three key regional IUCN bodies important to CEM. Firstly, the IUCN Regional Office is located in Suva in Fiji and has a number of regional programmes relevant to CEM. The Regional Office has four thematic areas in the it’s regional plan. The four thematic areas are: Value and Conserving Nature, Governance of Nature's Use, Nature-based Solutions and Blue Green economy. There is scope for CEM members to be active in assisting the Regional Office in implementing programmes in these four thematic areas. In that light the CEM Regional Chair for Oceania is a member of the Nature based solutions Technical Advisory Group.
The other two important IUCN bodies within the region are the Australian and New Zealand Chapters of IUCN (AIUCN &NZIUCN). A working relationship between CEM and ACIUCN has now been established with Peter Smith being the CEM contact person and there is a need for a contact person to be established with NZIUCN.