Greenpeace closes Suva office
The environmental watchdog Greenpeace is closing its Pacfic regional office in Fiji at the end of the month.
The environmental watchdog Greenpeace is closing its Pacific regional office in Fiji at the end of the month.
The four member office is to be replaced by a smaller scale presence to be known as "pacific net".
The programme director of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Ben Pearson, told Sally Round, the closure after nearly twenty years is nothing to do with domestic Fiji politics, nor is it a funding problem.
BEN PEARSON: Greenpeace Australia Pacific will continue to devote substantial resources to the Pacific, particularly the oceans campaign. So there's no way in which this should be seen as us withdrawing from the Pacific at all, it's just a matter of having a bit of a review and a change of the way in which we actually allocate resources in the region. We only get money from members of the public, we don't get money from governments or corporations. And as a result we obviously think that it's very important that we spend that money wisely.
SALLY ROUND: How will that work, that Pacific net position?
BP: That person will be Greenpeace's physical presence in the Pacific region. They will be based there permanently. Their job will be to make sure Greenpeace is fully involved in developments in the region relating not only to oceans but also to climate change, toxics, and other campaigns that are relevant to the region. I should stress that we will continue to have staff in the Australian office who will work in the Pacific as well. They'll travel there frequently, they will work for Pacific Island governments and support them, particularly in their efforts to address over-fishing by European and other North Asian fishing fleets.
SR: Does it represent any change in focus, so more emphasis on the oceans and climate change than perhaps more local environmental issues?
BP: Well the office in Suva was always there to help deliver Greenpeace's global oceans campaign. So there's no real change in emphasis there. Its focus as I say was always really much dealing with overfishing, helping to establish ocean sanctuaries, working with Pacific Island countries to assist them in their efforts to address the crisis in the Pacific Ocean. So there's no change in emphasis there, it's just a different way in which we're going to allocate our resources.
SR: Being based in Fiji, it does throw up issues for non-government organisations, with the military regime having been in charge for the last eight years. Has this thrown up particular problems for Greenpeace, and is this part of the reason why you're pulling out?
BP: No, it's absolutely unrelated. We have operated in Suva for many years. We have not been affected by the military government there. Our campaigns very much focus on supporting Pacific Island nations to address over-fishing, to establish ocean sanctuaries, but I stress the decision we have made has nothing whatsoever to do with domestic Fijian politics.
SR: So you haven't been constrained at all in the work that you've been doing locally?
BP: Our focus has primarily always been on broader regional issues, as I say over-fishing and the like. Every country has its constraints, every country has particular domestic political circumstances that you need to take into account when you operate. Fiji is no different in that regard. But certainly when you look at what Greenpeace has achieved in the region over the past 10 years or so based in Fiji, there's no question that, you know, it's been a very proud history of achievement and the work we've done with Pacific Island countries has been very successful.
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