This year, the Oceania Regional Office was honoured to host the Oceania Regional Conservation Forum in Suva. Andrew Bignell, IUCN Regional Councillor in Oceania, urged members “to raise the bar and to think big.”
Speaking after the Oceania Regional Conservation Forum which was held from the 13th to the 15th of July 2015 in Suva, Fiji, IUCN Councillor Andrew Bignell said members needed to “do things better, and to do it well.”
IUCN members, commission members and councillors in Oceania attended the three-day meeting, which addressed conservation challenges in the region, governance issues within IUCN and the World Conservation Congress to be held in Hawaii next year, 2016.
Regional Conservation Fora are held every four years and have the common purpose of enabling participants to review the progress on the implementation of the current Regional Programmes. Four years ago, we convened the first Oceania Regional Conservation Forum in Brisbane since the establishment of the Regional Office in Suva in 2007. Participants had the opportunity to share experiences, build partnerships for action and provide substantive inputs into the Regional Programme 2013 – 2016 which guides IUCN’s current work in Oceania.
Participants of the Oceania Regional Conservation Forum were welcomed with a traditional Fijian ceremony Veiqaraqaravi Vakavanua, "a powerful celebration of the importance of culture and a reminder that a substantial percentage of the world’s population still value and practice cultural protocols for hospitality, the caring for past and future generations and respect for nature and all species." says Aroha Te Pareake Mead, Chair of the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy.
The Oceania Regional Conservation Forum provided a platform to discuss innovative approaches and share experiences on biodiversity conservation, climate change, food security, green growth and other significant issues where collective effort can be mobilised to effect change.
Our members discussed challenges and successes that affect current progress and envision a way forward in terms of setting priorities for Oceania through collective inputs into the proposed global and regional Programmes for 2017 – 2020 and lay the groundwork leading up to the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii next year.
"I see a region committed, I see a region in peril, but I also see a region determined. I see a passion, a visceral commitment to making a difference." Said Inger Andersen, Director General of IUCN at the Oceania Regional Conservation Forum.
Highlights of the discussions on the Programme were:
- Identification of local needs, many of which have global scaling potentials;
- Identification of global issues which need emphasising such as climate change
- Antarctica, a huge continent that impacts the whole world
We also reflected on the successes of the World Parks Congress (WPC) held in Sydney last year and identified the main challenges and needs of the Oceania Region. Members and Commission members recognized the real need to inspire a new generation, which was also one of the highlights of the WPC. They pointed that parks are no longer entities in their own right. It might be a dawning realisation for some continental type countries, but the Oceania Region and its islands have always known that parks were linked to wider landscapes and connected to communities.
“From the Oceania Regional Conservation Forum, there is a greater determination for New Zealand , Australia and Pacific membership to add value to the existing green growth and conservation commitments by Pacific Islands governments and regional partners. We look forward to stronger and effective partnerships leading to successful 2020 outcomes.” Said Taholo Kami, Regional Director of the Oceania Regional Office.