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SOPAC talk about Deep Sea Minerals

SOPAC talk about Deep Sea Minerals (DSM) and Water Resources Management (WRM)

Noumea 8 November

Deep Sea Minerals – At the 2009 Pacific Island Forum meeting, Leaders agreed a number of key priority areas for progressing the Pacific Plan including: “the development of a regional framework for deep sea minerals that shall be used by Pacific ACP States to formulate national legal instruments for the governance and administration of marine mineral resources”. Under Key Result Area 1 of the SPC-EU EDF10 Deep Sea Minerals (DSM) Project, a Regional Legislative and Regulatory Framework (RLRF) for Deep Sea Minerals Exploration and Exploitation has been developed to ensure (i) environmental protection, (ii) countries are prepared to meaningfully engage in this new industry, and (iii) long term sustainable benefits for the Pacific Islands Region.

The inaugural DSM Project regional workshop that was held in Nadi Fiji in June 2011 was an opportunity to bring together deep sea mineral experts around the world, representatives of Pacific ACP States as well as private sector and civil society to discuss various deep sea mineral issues and collectively identify priority areas and agree on a concerted way forward for the region.

Following the inaugural workshop, a Terms of Reference (ToR) for the development of the RLRF was prepared but it was not until the completion of the November 2011 International Workshop focusing on the environmental management needs for deep sea mineral activities that was organised by the International Seabed Authority (‘ISA’) in collaboration with the SPC through the DSM Project and the Government of Fiji that the RLRF was subsequently drafted.

The draft RLRF was first circulated for comments to Pacific ACP States and other interest groups and individuals in January 2012. It was finalised in July 2012, incorporating comments from all Project countries and some 40 other substantive contributions from other interested parties and experts. The RLRF was formally launched at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Rarotonga where the Leaders recommended that Forum Island Countries consider using the Framework in formulating relevant national policy noting it highlights the need for a precautionary approach and addresses economic, social and environmental aspects to ensure sustainable resource use prevails.

The RLRF is the first document of its kind, setting clear and comprehensive guidance for States in their decision-making about DSM activities, and in developing a robust regulatory regime where DSM activities are to proceed, that is consistent with international obligations, rules and standards.

Water Resources Management – The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded Pacific Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Project was launched in 13 countries in 2009 to protect vital watersheds, manage wastewater and sanitation, assess and protect water resources, and improve water efficiency and safety. After 3 years of implementation, tangible on-ground impacts are now evident. Knowledge exchange is a key objective of all GEF Projects but is often difficult as multimedia approaches are needed. To increase awareness of national demonstration projects, videos have been developed that tell the story of each project and their relevance to each country. To inform the region and global community of the significant results achieved each country has produced result notes for the Fourth Regional Steering Committee meeting these are now featured on the Global Environments Facilities Home Page.

The scale of water and sanitation issues facing the Pacific is partially linked to a lack of water resources expertise and IWRM awareness, occurring not only at the technological and scientific level, but also in the areas of community engagement approaches, water planning and project management.

In the face of population growth, development demands and climate change, water professionals can no longer focus on a sectoral approach to water management. Solving water-related problems requires technical and scientific expertise and greater understanding and integration of environmental, social and political factors, as well as the skills to work effectively with communities.

To help address these knowledge and competency needs SOPAC, with the support of the EU, engaged the International Water Centre to design and deliver a Graduate Certificate Programme in IWRM that provides an integrated perspective on water management. National participants were selected from the two regional IWRM Projects and associated stakeholders and provides an excellent example of “learning whilst doing” approach to building capacity that benefits the individual, the projects and their Nations.

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