Personal contribution call for World Environment Day
SPREP calls for Pacifc peoples to consider what role they can play to help protect the environment as the world marks Environment Day.
Today, June 5th, is World Environment Day and the Pacific's key regional environment body wants everyone to think of how they can have an impact.
The theme for World Environment Day is Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.
The executive director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, David Sheppard, told Don Wiseman what his organisation hopes for.
DAVID SHEPPARD: The environment is clearly essential for livelihoods, culture, for life in the Pacific. If we dont have a well managed environment we wont have sustainable development. So programmes of SPREP in partnership with other organisations are trying to assess the situation. In particular through activities such as state of the environment reporting. So we are aware for example of loss of key species in the Pacific. We have for some species like bird species some of the highest extinction rates on earth. We know that four out of six turtles in our region are on the IUCN red list of threatened species. We know that some shark species such as oceanic white tip are severely depleted from original abundance. So the warning signals are there and the need is to look at what is the practical concrete actions that Pacific Island countries can take. Supported by SPREP and other organisations with similar objectives.
DON WISEMAN: That information has been put out there and put out there and put out there, do you think people are actually really taking notice?
DS: I think in the Pacific certainly the answer is yes because all Pacific people's live close to their environment we see the impact of clearing of ah
DW: Most of this impact is external isn't it?
DS: A lot of it is external so areas like climate change and habitat clearing and what SPREP is supporting countries are some concrete actions to address these. So the theme of this years world environment day is focused on water specifically we are running out of water. It is a big challenge in our region, particularly outer islands. SPREP through projects like the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change project is increasing water capacity through increasing the number of water tanks but linking that with education communication about water conservation and also national policy developments.
DW: Your hope for World Environment day would be what?
DS: A better and more effectively managed environment and also for people taking action into their own hands. We can always bemoan climate change and factors outside our control but in fact there are many things that individuals, organisations, groups of communities can do themselves. So at SPREP on our campus in Apia that means installing recycling facilities, that means installing photovoltaic energy so that we run on Solar energy rather than diesel. It means we look at issues like trying to cut down our travel and use more video conferencing. So a message is yes there are challenges yes, but let us look at what is being done, let us celebrate that and importantly let us look at what we as individuals, we as communities can do ourselves rather than just throwing our hands up in the air and bemoaning the challenges.
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