Aug 23, 2017 Last Updated 2:11 PM, Jun 12, 2017

THE region faces an enormous threat from plastic bags and other synthetic material initially designed to make life easier. Every day, thousands of plastic bags are used in shops, supermarkets, department stores, restaurants and roadside market stalls.  

Thirty years ago, bread was wrapped in newspaper or newsprint, tied with string and carried under the arm from local shops to homes. The string was recycled – sometimes used to end up as part of a child’s homemade toy – and the paper was used to wrap rubbish, clean windows or light a fire.

Paper and string are bio-degradable and break down easily if they are buried or merely left at the mercy of the elements. Now, bread is pushed into plastic bags for that same journey home from stores around the Pacific. Indeed, every possible purchase from a shop is carried home in some form of plastic which will take hundreds of years to decompose.

Some households use plastic bags to hold rubbish which is removed by municipal councils.

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BY month’s end, The fate the 2019 Pacific Games will be known. A journey that began five years ago when Tonga won the bid to host the Pacific’s premier quadrennial sports event has turned sour after Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva announced last month his government was pulling out. Pohiva finally came out of the woodwork after months of stifling tactics and constant interference with the organising of the Games that’s left the sporting fraternity in total bewilderment.

Looking at the timeline of events, things would be well on track by now without Pohiva’s unnecessary intrusions.

• October 2012 – Pacific Games Council awards Tonga rights to host the 16th Pacific Games in 2019. In support of Tonga’s bid, then Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano suggested the games would cement the foundation for democracy in Tonga after democratic elections were held in 2010.

• December 2014 – Akilisi Pohiva is the first commoner appointed Prime Minister by the Parliament instead of the King.

• November 2015 – Tonga Games Organising committee awards NZ company Creative Spaces US$11million to commence upgrading works on the Teufaiva Stadium. Then Finance minister Aisake Eke endorsed the deal confirming availability of funds for the project.

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IN what could best labelled as an out -of-the-box idea, Kiribati says it won’t sit around waiting for global funds but would instead use its own money to fund climate change adaptation works on the atoll nation. Island president Taneti Maamau unveiled his administration’s climate finance plans at a United Nations conference on disaster risk reduction in Mexico last month.

Key to the funding plan is sourcing concessionary bank loans with the island’s healthy trust funds to be put up as collateral. “Ideally, government will be looking at concessional debt financing with an interest rate of 1 per cent to 2 per cent which will be repaid when climate or adaptation financing are available.

We currently earn about 6 per cent return on our investment,” said President Maamau. “We are also looking at private financing for our adaptation and mitigation measures.

The Pacific Rising Initiative of the Coalition of Atoll Nations Against Climate Change (CANCC) is a public private partnership aimed at securing and mobilising private capital for climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

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PORT facilities at Fiji’s second largest city, Lautoka, will take on a new look in 12 months’ time with the expected completion by then of structures to accommodate the storing and export of magnetite-rich ironsand.  

This follows the handing over, late May, of a 5.9 hectare wharf site by Amex Resources Limited to Chinese port-construction company, CCCC First Harbour Consultants, to begin work on a berth, a barge unloading facility, a washing plant, a stockpile area, ship-loading infrastructure, as well as workshops and offices. Speaking at the hand-over ceremony, Fiji’s Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources, Faiyaz Koya expressed the hope that it would take the Amex project in Fiji “much closer to the commencement of (ironsand) mining”.

“The construction of these facilities - together with the purchase of a specialized marine fleet - represents a $180-million investment. This is in addition to the $25-million the Company (Amex) has already spent on exploration and other associated works leading up to this,” Minister Koya said.

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Bishop stands firm on environmental issues

AS the Pacific and global focus turns towards COP 23 and the Oceans Summit, the region continues to face challenges with climate change, extractive industry and development. How much should the region give up in return for development? Are global development models applicable in the Pacific? Those are just some of the questions which challenge leaders, industrialists and the people of the Pacific. In his Easter message, Archbishop of Suva, Reverend Reverend Dr Peter Loy Chong, spoke about the link between God, creation and development.

Peace — Shalom! (May you have fullness of life). Peace is the first word uttered by Jesus to his disciples after he rose from the dead. Jesus greets the disciples who were still traumatised by his humiliating and brutal death. Easter celebrates the most important event of the Christian tradition, namely the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, the writings of the New Testament have no record of Jesus’ actual rising from the tomb. Instead it only has accounts of the appearances of Jesus to the disciples. This means that the disciples’ knowledge and experience of the Risen Jesus was given to them. In other words revelation is a gift from God. Therefore, to understand what happened on that original Easter and to reinterpret its meaning for Fiji today we turn to the disciples’ experiences of the risen Jesus.

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Low carbon, cost-effective

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on sustainable sea transportation for the Pacific. We talk to the experts, turn to the past and explore ideas and designs for answers to the future of inter-island shipping, the key to our trade and lifeline of island economies.

WHENEVER the SV Kwai appears on the horizon,islanders of the remote atolls from Hawaii, Kiribati’s Line Islands, and the Cook Islands celebrate a much-anticipated meeting at the waterfront.

This is their lifeline to the world, bringing much-needed supplies and and engaging them in trade. Without this, the the islanders’ ability to purchase stores brought from Hawai’i and carried on the inter-island freighter is severely limited.

Built in 1950 and owned by Island Ventures Ltd, which operates under a business model that recognises the need for trade for the survival of these people. it makes up to four trips a year and does charters in between.

Over the years the former fishing boat was converted and retrofitted with soft sails, the wheelhouse moved to allow for a mizzen mast, giving it the potential for further savings from additional voyages. Profits from the voyages paid for the conversions. 

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FOR the first time in more than a century, the Anglican Church in Tonga will have its own bishop. Although men with Tongan heritage – Bishop Jabez Bryce and Archbishop Dr Winston Halapua – have led the Diocese of Polynesia, Tonga has always fallen under the leadership of a primate based offshore. Last month Halapua – only the second Pacific islander to head the church since 1908 – announced he would step down in August 2018.

That means the Diocese of Polynesia’s Electoral College will meet over the next 13 months to choose a successor, most likely from priests from its Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and New Zealand congregations. A popular candidate is the Vicar of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Suva – the young, charismatic, Father Claude Fong-Toy.

There is also expected to be a push for a bishop from the ethnic Solomon island community to which the church has ministered since they were black birded in the 1800s to work on cotton and coconut estates in Fiji. Also in contention are women candidates Sereima Lomaloma and Amy Chambers who were among the first female priests ordained by the church in the Pacific.

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Tourism growth inspires island ambitions

SAMOA will aim to continue improvements in its local tourism market after a recent visit by travel industry representatives from around the globe. The Samoa Tourism Exchange attracted international interest, coming ahead of similar events in Fiji, Australia and the regional SPTE 2018in Sydney.

Tourism Samoa’s Dwayne Bentley said every effort was being made to increase arrival numbers. “Kiwi visitor numbers for 2016 were up eight per cent from 2015 to around 66,000, securing their place as our biggest market,’’ Bentley said. ‘’Australians were just under half that at 31,000, with American Samoa sitting third with about 15,000.’’ Samoa recorded 145,000 tourists in 2016 – a growth of 4.4 per cent over 2015.

“It’s a positive result that can be attributed to awareness of the destination and the effort everyone is putting in to get people here,” Bentley said. Samoa has put in major tourism infrastructure improvements in an effort to maintain strong visitor growth, including the construction of a new arrivals terminal at Faleolo International Airport.

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Islands Business talks to Freda Unusi, Solomons Islands Tourism Bureau’s marketing manager about the isand nation’s aspirations and tourism strategies IB: So the Solomons has the cleanest air in the world!

UNUSI: We just heard yesterday. We’re first and New Zealand is second according to the WHO.

IB: What does that mean for the Solomon islands as a desination?

UNUSI: Wow! That’s a catch phrase for us – If you want to relax and have clean, healthy air, come to the Solomons.

IB: How do you keep it that way?

UNUSI: I know! Well, for a start the logging industry is big in the Solomons so perhaps what we have to do now that they have announced that (but it’s slowly depleting. So we have no option but to revert to what we have in our lifetsyle and everything else...

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Relationships key to Pacific tourism

WITH Pacific tourism arrivals hitting two million last year, the future of the industry will hinge on business relationships forged between the region’s sellers and international buyers. Over the four-year period 2012-2016, tourist numbers grew 2.9 per cent and are expected to climb further after three very successful South Pacific Tourism Exchanges in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Melbourne.

Those events motivated international travel buyers to send clients to Pacific destinations. Chris Cocker, CEO of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, believes that relationship-building is the cornerstone of a successful marketing campaign to promote the region. “The relationships built at the SPTE are crucial to developing the Pacific as a credible, safe, secure market throughout the world,” Cocker said at the end of the most recent exchange in Sydney last month.

“At the SPTE the buyers have the opportunity to see what is on offer in the regions and there’s a huge variety available in our countries “Actually it’s more than just sun, sea and sand. It’s also about people and understanding the market.” 

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How a 1-week contest inspired farmers and boosted Solomons cocoa exports

TEN new farmers emerged as finalists at this year’s Solomon Islands Chocolate Week – a sign that more cocoa producers are becoming interested in producing quality cocoa. And according to the Solomon Islands Commodities Export Marketing Authority, the annual event has had a direct impact on the volume of cocoa beans exported to boutique chocolate markets by the Solomon Islands.

Held at the National Auditorium in Honiara from April 24-28, this year’s event was hailed as a success by stakeholders for its support of cocoa farmers and for facilitating new more profitable market opportunities for their quality cocoa.

The event was organised by the Australian and New Zealand-funded Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (*PHAMA) Program, Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) and Solomon Islands Rural Development Program (RDP), in collaboration with the Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA) and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL).

Through PHAMA’s support, chocolate makers from Australia, New Zealand, and the USA attended as judges. 

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The 33rd Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo was a bonus for local agricultural and handicraft producers seeking to promote their products and expand their networks. With support from the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA*) Program, local producers of coffee, coconut and cocoa occupied five of the 57 booths at the Trade Expo, with two of the booths dedicated to promoting Papua New Guinea handicrafts.

In addition to showcasing their products, the businesses interacted with around 400 delegates from Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand who were part of the two-day forum, as well as the many Port Moresby residents who visited the booths. Susan Bakani of Artisan Culture, who exhibited in the handicraft booth, said she met many visitors interested in her products and felt the expo had given her an opportunity to expand her network.

PHAMA’s support is part of its ongoing work to improve market access for Papua New Guinea industries which is in line with the Government of Papua New Guinea’s policy to promote agriculture...

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