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Pacific Open Forum on Green Growth Contributes to UNCSD PrepCom

21 July 2011: The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and the Government of Samoa convened the Open Forum on Green Growth. The Forum aimed to increase understanding of green growth in a practical context in the Pacific region, and to contribute to the UN Conference for Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) Subregional Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for Pacific Countries.

The Forum took place from 20-21 July 2011, in Apia, Samoa, and was attended by government, non-governmental, church, and UN agency representatives. Fa'amoetauloa Lealaiaiauloto Taito, Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa, opened the Forum, noting that its outcomes would feed into the Ministerial-level PrepCom, convening from 21-22 July 2011, also in Apia, Samoa.

Iosefa Maiava, ESCAP, said green growth is a practical way to achieve sustainable development in the Pacific. He said the five pathways to green growth are: investment in natural capital; sustainable consumption and production (SCP); promotion of sustainable infrastructure; greening business and markets; and an enabling policy environment created by regulatory changes. Jeem Lippwe, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), proposed that, to ensure an effective contribution of the Pacific region to the UNCSD preparatory process, an expert from the Pacific should be nominated to provide support to New York-based ambassadors. Stephen Powell, Australia, presented his country's efforts to develop a green economy. Yumiko Crisostomo, Marshall Islands, highlighted the practical advances toward building resilience to climate change and achieving sustainable development in her country.

Taholo Kami, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), outlined the urgent need to invest in natural capital and highlighted the Pacific Mangroves Initiative, which aims to restore, manage and conserve mangrove systems. Mike Donoghue, Conservation International, discussed the role of marine protected areas (MPAs), and highlighted the potential of its Oceanscape initiative to advance government leadership and action for improving ocean governance and health. Sefanaia Nawadra, SPREP, discussed proposed and existing protected areas in Fiji, and underscored the need to move from discrete protected areas to an overall managed landscape. Samisoni Sauni, Forum Fisheries Association, outlined key strategic priorities including jurisdictional rights and responsibilities, and good ocean governance. Keneti Faulalo, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), underscored the interconnectivity between food, energy and water.

Mereia Volavola, Pacific Island Private Sector Organisation, outlined the challenges of greening businesses and markets faced by the private sector, including the need to address efficiency mechanisms, sustainable financing and capacity building. A representative from the International Labour Organization (ILO) highlighted the value of green jobs within green growth. He said the sectors with potential for creating sustainable green jobs include tourism, renewable energy, agriculture, waste management and others. Jackie Thomas, WWF, emphasized the value of energy efficiency within the tourism industry, with a focus on simple technology to improve profitability and sustainability. Karen Maposua, Women in Business Development, underscored the need for cultural and traditional practices to be part of the organic certification process in the Pacific, and provided examples of the growth of organic-focused businesses.

Aru Matthias, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), underscored that young people are the future and need to be recognized for their accomplishments in innovating in the agricultural sector. Kevin Petrini, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said UNESCO's priorities included policy and innovation, formal education and training, and community based education. A representative of the University of the South Pacific highlighted the work of the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development in developing four post-graduate courses on: climate change impacts; climate science; disaster risk management; and environmental impact assessment. Fei Tevi, Pacific Conference of Churches, stressed that many Pacific economies are dominated by the informal sector, and concluded that greening the formal economy would be insufficient.

Krishna Prasad, Fiji, presented aspects of the Fiji Roadmap for Sustainable Socio Economic Development, which addresses economic development while ensuring environmental sustainability. Joseph Aitaro, Palau, highlighted his country's efforts to achieve sustainable financing, which include tourism taxes that contribute to the protection of natural resources. Tamara Levine, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said her organization is developing alternative measures to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that also account for the value of natural resources. She discussed the need for economic analysis at the national level in order to gauge areas for potential green growth. Constance Vigilance, Commonwealth Secretariat, discussed budgetary instruments to induce change in consumer behaviors.

On communication and development for a green economy, representatives from DESA, the Global Islands Partnership (GLISPA), the Pacific Solution Exchange, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Reporting Services presented on SIDSnet and associated initiatives. Representatives from UNESCO discussed enabling environments for communication, and UNESCO's efforts to facilitate such environments. [IISD RS Sources] [PIFS Press Release[SPREP Press Release]