Majuro, Marshall Islands – Over 25 participants gathered in Majuro today to officially launch two national projects as part of the Global Environment Facility Pacific Ridge to Reef programme.
Aimed at improving the livelihoods and opportunities of Pacific Islanders through local actions to conserve and rehabilitate their environments, the 1-day launch and joint inception meeting included key national stakeholders, and representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Pacific Community (SPC).
In opening remarks, the Honourable David Paul, Minister in Assistance to the President and Environment said: “As a small island developing state, the Republic of the Marshall Islands acknowledge the unique interconnections between land, water and coastal systems, our high vulnerability to climate changes and limited human resources.”
“Maintaining and conserving our environment is crucial to the effective management of our natural resources, and these 2 projects respond to our national sustainable development needs,” the Minister continued.
“Importantly, the Ridge to Reef programme takes a ‘whole of island’ and integrated approach to facilitating multi-sectoral coordination and collaboration in the prioritization of sustainable development efforts considering interests from community to cabinet, and physically, from ridge to reef.”
“It is, therefore, with much pleasure that I officially open this important inception meeting for the Pacific R2R Programme in the Marshall Islands.”
The 2 multi-year projects launched today include the UNDP bilateral R2R project implemented in partnership with the Office of the Environment Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC). The $3.9 million project is the “Reimaanlok – Looking to the Future: Strengthening natural resource management in atoll communities in the Republic of Marshall Islands employing integrated approaches (RMI R2R).” The 5-year project will be implemented in five atolls – Likiep, Mejit, Wotho, Ebon and Aur and support the implementation of the Protected Area Network Act of 2015.
OEPPC Director and GEF Operational Focal Point Mr Clarence Samuel said: “We are pleased to partner with the UNDP to implement the two key national policies to deliver environmental outcomes that support national sustainable development aspirations and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
The SPC regionally executed GEF-UNDP Ridge-to-Reef Project is implementing a national demonstration project at Laura Village in the RMI, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
General Manager for Environmental Protection Agency Moriana Philips said the national demonstration project in Laura Village focuses on improving water quality through better waste management systems.
“Critically, the Laura groundwater lens is Majuro’s only back up water supply, and the main issue facing the groundwater is contamination from human and animal waste. The Laura demonstration project uses dry-litter piggeries and innovative designs of compost toilets to decrease pollution to their freshwater resource,” she said.
Philips added that other benefits include more efficient use of water resources, increased access to compost for improved soil quality and organic crop production for livelihoods.
“This R2R approach supports locally driven solutions and mobilizes communities to take local action with global benefits, and be active participants in local level decisions related to their environment and part of a community to cabinet policy making process,” she concluded.
On a national scale, the regional project will also deliver the National State of the Coast report for the Marshall Islands the benefits of which will provide an integrated and comprehensive evaluation process and monitoring to support the sustainable management of their coastal resources.
The GEF Pacific R2R Programme led by UNDP operates across 14 Pacific Island countries and supports national priorities and development needs while delivering local and global environmental benefits across multiple GEF focal areas, including: biodiversity, land degradation, international waters, sustainable forest management, climate mitigation and adaptation and capacity development.
Merana Kitione, RSD Communications Officer, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Suva; tel: +679 3312500; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inga Mangisi-Mafileo, Communications and Knowledge Management Adviser, Regional Programme Coordinating Unit, GEF Pacific R2R Programme, Pacific Community (SPC), tel: +679 752 3060; email: email@example.com