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Aid Agency to continue work on population pressure

6 November 2001

Media Statement

New Aid Agency to continue work on population pressures

“Population and environment pressures may seem far away from New Zealand. But the Pacific, although it makes up only 0.4% of the world’s total land area, shows signs of both,” says Minister in charge of aid, Matt Robson.

He was speaking today in Wellington at the launch of the UNFPA’s The State of the World Population 2001 Report.

“The topic, ‘Footprints and Milestones: Population and Environment Change’ is timely. As the report asks, how can we ensure the well-being and development of growing human populations and still protect the natural world?”

He outlined key initiatives that New Zealand is taking to address the delicate balance between development and protecting the environment in the Pacific.

“We currently provide $2 million a year to support Pacific Island communities to sustainably manage their environment.

“Most importantly we work in partnership with Pacific communities to develop small-scale, income generating enterprises such as ecotourism. This is the future for Pacific tourism I am sure of it.

“It would be easy to think that population growth and its impact of the environment isn’t an issue in the Pacific. But the truth is Micronesia has a population density second only to Western Europe, and Polynesia is not far behind.

“We are starting to see the impacts of this in the region in terms of pressures on natural resources and political instability. HIV/AIDs and STDs are also increasing rapidly within the region.”

New Zealand presently gives $575,000 in assistance for a 2-year ‘Men as Partners’ sexual and reproductive health programme in Fiji.

“I can give an assurance that under the new aid agency that we are presently putting in place, New Zealand will continue to support sexual and reproductive health programmes in the Pacific, and continue to work with our Pacific neighbours to protect the environment,” says Matt Robson.

ENDS

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