UNEP Opens New Sub-Regional Office for the Pacific Based in Apia, Samoa di, sep 2, 2014

The establishment of this new office is one of the results from the decisions agreed by Member States during the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development - known as Rio+20 - to strengthen the role of UNEP as the leading global environmental authority

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner (left) and His Excellency Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa (right) after signing a Host Country Agreement to open a new UNEP sub-regional office in Samoa.

Apia, Samoa, 2 September 2014 - His Excellency Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa, and UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim today officially opened the new UNEP sub-regional office for the Pacific based in Apia, Samoa with the signing of a Host Country Agreement.

The establishment of this new office is one of the results from the decisions agreed by Member States during the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development - known as Rio+20 - to strengthen the role of UNEP as the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

"The timing of today's ceremony could not have been more perfect, happening against the backdrop of the Third International Conference on Small Islands Developing States whose focus is on the centrality of genuine and durable partnerships as a means to ensure the sustainability of SIDS development," said Prime Minister Malielegaoi.

"The formal opening of UNEP's presence in the Pacific is a celebration on many fronts. Firstly it is a partnership amongst diverse stakeholders. This is a collaborative effort between the United Nations, the United Nations agency, a regional organisation and the Pacific island nations. Secondly it is an acknowledgement by the UN community and [the United Nations Environment Assembly] that the needs and the realities of the Pacific region are better served when viewed from perspectives on the ground, and not from a distance," he added.

The establishment of the UNEP Office for the Pacific will allow UNEP to strengthen its regional presence, in order to assist countries in the implementation of their national environmental policies as was called for in the Rio outcome document.

It will allow UNEP to build on its substantial project portfolios in the Pacific, especially its work on ozone depleting substances and through the Global Environment Facility-funded portfolio of projects covering marine and coastal management, invasive species and waste management.

The office will be hosted by the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), a long-term UNEP partner. This location will also enable UNEP to leverage SPREP's extensive experience, expertise and networks in meeting the needs of the Pacific countries.

"It is an extraordinary privilege to experience your hospitality, which has made this conference something that none of us will forget for a long time. We in UNEP take it as a privilege that one of the first decisions that came out of Rio was the strengthening, and establishment of sub-regional offices for UNEP. This takes its first step here in Apia, Samoa. Other sub-regional offices will follow over the next six months in the Caribbean, in Central Asia and in South America," said Mr. Steiner.

"In putting our roots down here in Samoa we hope that our presence will add both to the future choices and work of your government, of your nation and also become an asset to the work of countries across the Pacific, many of whom are aspiring to work with UNEP as they work towards a transition towards a more sustainable future," he added.

David Sheppard, Director-General of SPREP, said: "SPREP welcomes this as a further strengthening of our long-term partnership with UNEP - having shared corporate objectives, mandate and programmes."

He added: "SPREP looks forward to the technical and funding support that it can utilize in the region to meet these shared objectives and implement the outcomes of Rio+20, the SIDS Conference and the results of the continuing discussions on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda."

The opening of the UNEP Office for the Pacific comes at a critical time for the Pacific countries, as they confront the multiple challenges of climate change and rising sea levels and complete national efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The office will be geared to support the Pacific countries prepare for the post-2015 period and the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, as well as to make operational the decisions of Ministers at the United Nations Environment Assembly on critical issues such as chemicals and waste and sustainable consumption and production.

 
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