This theme focuses on environmental governance, which refers to processes and institutions through which societies make decisions that affect the environment. Good environmental governance is based on several key principles such as the active engagement and participation of stakeholders at all levels of society, access to information, adequate funding, transparency and accountability.
In the Pacific region, national enabling legislation in the form of regulations, acts, policies, procedures, and other legislative or policy directives are established or being established. These form part of national environmental governance systems which are linked to sustainable development goals, international and regional MEAs and sustainable financing.
Whilst there has been a proliferation of MEAs including the biodiversity cluster of MEAs which many PICs have signed and are parties to, there is still a growing gap between commitments made and actual implementation due to a number of issues such as limited technical and financial capacities of national environment institutions.
The challenges in the Pacific, include constraints and bottlenecks that hinder effective environmental monitoring, governance and sustainable financing caused by a myriad of issues which include but not limited to the following:
- Many policies, legal frameworks, and strategic plans need to be revised, updated, and further developed
- Enforcement of national policies is weak
- Weak coordination between government institutions, the private sector, non-government organisations, and other organizations makes synergistic implementation of environmental policies and strategies very challenging
- Shortages of skilled human resources, physical infrastructure, and facilities limit the extent to which Pacific Island countries and territories can fulfill their obligations under various Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs). The most direct cause for these deficiencies can be traced to inadequate funding.
- Lack of environmental information gathering, data storage systems, and technically skilled staff are critical barriers which has contributed to poor MEA and national report writing.
- There is also a lack of understanding and knowledge about MEAs and their purposes in all levels of society but particularly amongst the private sector and the general public. The complexity of information involved with MEAs and inadequate integration of this information into formal and informal education has left most institutions ill-prepared to effectively handle MEA issues.
- Often there is a lack of coherent and effective coordination between various institutions, and they are overburdened by the excessive number of redundant and often contradictory documents in the budgeting and planning process.
- Poor institutional networking and collaboration within Governments and with external partners, along with limited systematic research and monitoring, has contributed to poor policy implementation and decision making processes. This is worsened by weak institutional capacity and infrastructure of key stakeholders such as regulatory agencies and other Government agencies.
The conference will assess, review and examine in detail environmental monitoring, governance and sustainable financing issues, this session will first draw on the findings and recommendations of the first Regional State of Environment Report and the second State of Conservation in Oceania report which have been commissioned to inform the conference discussions and outcomes.
Furthermore, the sessions will facilitate and promote the sharing of experiences, lessons learnt and success stories from national governments, local communities, regional and international organisations, non-government organistation and others from around the Pacific and beyond.
Stakeholders involved include experts, practitioners, local communities, academia, government officials, policy and decision makers, development partners, donors and all those who have an interest in environmental monitoring, governance and sustainable finance. It is an excellent opportunity to build and expand networks and forge new partnerships.
Some key questions to be addressed include: In promoting a resilient Pacific, what actions are required to strengthen environmental monitoring, governance and sustainable financing to support a resilient Pacific? Many countries in the Pacific have developed national environment policies and strategies often to meet MEA obligations and commitment. Is there a role of the private sector and local communities in implementing these national policies and strategies? Sustainable finance is critical for environmental sustainability and sustainable development. Are there any innovative financing measures that could be explored to ensure a range of sustainable finance options are accessible and available to support a resilient Pacific now and into the future?
- Build capacity and partnerships that strengthen synergies between science, policy and local and indigenous knowledge systems and between local and international agreements and effectively mobilise resources - Objective 6 -Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Islands 2014-2020
- Aichi Biodiversity Target 17, 18, 19, 20 - Convention on Biological Diversity