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The Pacific ocean is an intrinsic part of life for the people of the 21 island states and territories of the Pacific.

The Pacific ocean provides food, transport, and a source of pride and identity for its ten million Pacific Island inhabitants. Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian cultures have all traditionally emphasized wise resource use and environmental stewardship.

Modernization and population growth have led to an escalation of human activities, resulting in the increasing degradation or destruction of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The problem is compounded by the effects of alien invasive species. The effects are amplified because of the small land masses of islands. Climate induced sea level rise impacts on numerous communities which live along the coast and threatens the very existence of low-lying coral atolls.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is the primary regional organization concerned with environmental management and sustainable development in the Pacific and serves as the Secretariat for three Conventions.

The 1976 Convention on the Conservation of Nature in the South Pacific (the Apia Convention), came into force in 1990. Its operation was suspended in 2006.

The 1986 Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific region (the Noumea Convention) entered into force in 1990. It has two Protocols.

The 1995 Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region (the Waigani Convention) entered into force in 2001.


Policy and legal frameworks for action at the regional and national levels are continuously being developed. SPREP continues to strengthen environmental education and awareness-raising in order to empower people to safeguard traditional lifestyles and properly manage their resources.

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