Fiji shows mainstreaming biodiversity in its economy is key for a sustainable future
To reduce biodiversity loss in Fiji, the BIODEV2030 initiative is exploring how voluntary sectoral commitments can safeguard nature and livelihoods, while contributing to the country’s national biodiversity targets.
In March 2021, the IUCN Oceania Regional office launched BIODEV2030, announcing a series of multi-stakeholder consultations with communities and sector actors. The goal, it explained, was to mainstream biodiversity in decision-making, including in the private sector. Officiating the ceremony, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Waterways and Environment, Mr Joshua Wycliffe, said:
Mainstreaming also means cross-sectoral. When we implement things cross-sectorally, it multiplies the speed at which we intervene.
BIODEV 2030 is helping 16 pilot countries secure voluntary, sector-based commitments to halt the loss of biodiversity and its consequences over the next decade. Funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) with IUCN, Expertise France and WWF as implementing partners, in Fiji, it is partnering with the Ministry of Environment.
Fiji’s economy depends heavily on natural resources, both terrestrial and marine. The government has put in place a range of policies, institutions, and legislative frameworks to protect the country’s unique natural heritage and prevent the environmental degradation of its ecosystems. However, the existing measures -- and their enforcement -- are not sufficient to protect against the loss of native forest, home to hundreds of endemic species, or against the overexploitation of its rich marine resources, which also places people’s livelihoods at risk.
To support a national dialogue on the conservation of Fiji’s diverse natural capital, IUCN says it is imperative to understand the status and the root causes of these trends. Therefore, IUCN conducted a National Biodiversity Threat Assessment last year to inform the forthcoming dialogues. The study showed that agriculture and coastal fisheries posed the biggest threat to the country’s biodiversity. In particular, coastal fisheries and the kava farming industry were shown to be key areas of concern for potential action.
Sharing the results of the assessment has helped raise awareness about the state of the country’s biodiversity. For example, a workshop with the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council (FCLC) held last December resulted in a greater understanding about the threats to their sector as a result of biodiversity loss.
More recently, the BIODEV2030 team met with the Permanent Secretaries from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Fisheries and Ministry of Forests to confirm their support for the upcoming multi-stakeholder national dialogues. Then, last month, a focus group meeting was held with the coastal and kava fisheries stakeholders to discuss possible interventions along their value chains and how this could help enable voluntary commitments.
The forthcoming consultations with civil society, government officials and business organisations aim to secure concrete national and sectoral voluntary commitments that will reduce pressure on biodiversity over the next decade. Such action will also contribute to global goals to halt the decline in biodiversity by 2030, and support efforts to restore threatened ecosystems and species populations by 2050.