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21 years of serving the environment and peoples of the Pacific

Pacific history was made twenty one years ago on June 16, 1993. On that day Pacific island countries signed an agreement to establish SPREP – the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme – as an independent, intergovernmental organisation to ensure better management and protection of the Pacific environment. SPREP’s mandate under the 1993 SPREP Agreement is to “promote cooperation in the Pacific region and provide assistance in order to protect and improve the environment and to ensure sustainable development for present and future generations”.

This month SPREP pays tribute to the vision of our Pacific members as we celebrate our 21st birthday. SPREP provides assistance to Pacific countries and territories to protect and improve their environment and to respond to key challenges such as climate change and the management of waste. The Pacific environment is fundamental to sustainable development and the livelihoods of Pacific peoples. Put simply, if the Pacific environment both on land and at sea is poorly managed or treated then the livelihoods of Pacific peoples will suffer. SPREP’s focus is on working to support Pacific island members to address their environment and sustainable development challenges and priorities.

I am pleased that SPREP has more than doubled its direct financial and technical support to our Pacific members over the last four years, in the areas under the SPREP mandate. We will continue and accelerate these efforts in support of our Pacific island countries and territories. SPREP had humble beginnings from an office in SPC Noumea in 1972, then moving to the old Copra Office in Vaitele, Samoa in February, 1992 and then to our current SPREP Campus offices in Vailima, Samoa from 2000. From a one person Secretariat in 1972 we have grown to around 90 staff today. We are pleased to note that the first ever out-posted SPREP Officer, Moriana Phillip, is now working in the Office of the Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC) in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. SPREP has grown over the years but our core principle remain the same – helping Pacific island countries and territories and their peoples to better manage and protect their environment to ensure sustainable development.

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