Suva, Fiji – ‘The importance of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to the well-being of the people in the North Pacific has been proven in so many ways. Whether one talks about agriculture, fisheries or energy, SPC is involved in so many aspects of our everyday lives.
It is helping to make a difference,’ said Thomas Kijiner, Secretary of Marshall Islands’ Ministry of Resources and Development.
These sentiments were echoed by Secretary Marion Henry of the Department of Resources and Development, Federated States of Micronesia, who said, ‘FSM values its partnership with SPC and appreciates its coordinating role and the synergies provided to ongoing projects in-country. Certainly, the presence of SPC in the North Pacific adds a comparative advantage to the undertaking of sub-regional projects like the EU funded, North Pacific ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (North REP) Project, under EDF Envelope 10.’
[Solar panels in FSM, similar to those being installed under the North REP project]
A similar sentiment of appreciation and support was expressed by Director Gustav Aitaro of the Ministry of State in the Republic of Palau.
These government officials were referring to the presence of the SPC North Pacific Regional Office in Pohnpei, FSM, which serves SPC’s Northern Pacific members.
‘This office came into being after the signing of a host country agreement between SPC and the government of FSM in 2006,’ explained Mr Amena Yauvoli, Manager of the SPC North Pacific Regional Office. ‘This was after the 2005 external review of SPC highlighted the organisation’s need for visibility in the North Pacific.’
Mr Yauvoli, who provides the oversight management of SPC’s corporate services, finance and programme implementation in the North Pacific, said that, to begin with, the staff were technical people from the plant and animal health sections of SPC Land Resources Division.
‘We started with four. Now, there are almost 40 staff members here, cutting across all SPC divisions and programmes.
‘The North Pacific Regional Office is also a conduit in terms of working with development partners to assist member countries. A good example is the Australian Food Security and Climate Change Vulnerability assessment Project for FSM. The Australian Government, through its Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, is working with SPC on this project, and we work closely with the FSM government.
‘Another example is the European Union-funded North Pacific ACP Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (North REP). Although the project comes under the SPC Economic Development Division based in Suva, it is located here as it covers three northern members: FSM, Marshall Islands and Palau. This is our biggest project, with funding of USD 20 million over the next four years.
‘As island nations, fisheries are important, so there are fisheries projects. Technical advisors visit from SPC headquarters in Noumea, at the countries’ requests, and an oceanic fisheries trainer is based in Pohnepei, assisting people to fish in an environmentally friendly manner so that resources are protected and sustained for the future,’ said Mr Yauvoli.
‘The setup is unique and, as Manager, I liaise with the countries to make sure everything is in order for our technical people to implement the programmes that the countries have requested. We are also aware that countries cannot always cater for a large influx of staff, so co-ordination of our movement and activities in these countries with the SPC divisions and programmes in Fiji and Noumea is very important,’ he concluded.