Opinion

Sharing Knowledge Between Fiji, Tuvalu

Sharing of knowledge and best practices amongst Pacific Island countries is a priority of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Multi Country Office. At the request of  the Department of
18 May 2015 08:47
Sharing Knowledge Between Fiji, Tuvalu
Tuvalu participants discussing how lessons from Fiji could be tailored to their circumstances. Photo: Floyd Robinson

Sharing of knowledge and best practices amongst Pacific Island countries is a priority of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Multi Country Office.

At the request of  the Department of Environment Tuvalu,  UNDP facilitated an informal  ‘talanoa’ session on May 13 for stakeholders in Fiji  actively engaged in supporting community-based coastal fishery projects and a NAPA 2 Project of Tuvalu, which will soon  implement efforts aimed at enhancing the capacity of eight atoll islands communities developing community based management plans. The delegation from Tuvalu included project co-ordinator Soseala Tinilau, chief technical adviser Monifa Fiu, and Fishery Officer Semese Alefaio.

Participants from Fiji were from the Fiji Locally Managed Area Network, Seaweb Asia Pacific, World Wide Fund for Nature Pacific, Women in Fisheries Network and the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme.

Kiniviliame Ravonoloa delivered a lively and informative presentation sharing experiences of the Korolevu-i-Wai district, Nadroga. He emphasised “the importance of building trust between community members with external groups such as natural resource government departments and Non-Governmental Organisations”.

Since the establishment of the first community management plan in 2002, they have witnessed significant increases in coral cover by more than 500 percent and increasing populations of important fish species such as surgeon fish.

The success of the community’s marine conservation efforts was not without challenges.

To ensure a strong sense of ownership, the initiative was executed through existing traditional governance structures and allowed communities adequate opportunities to review their marine management plans.

Non-governmental organisations such as the Seaweb Asia Pacific, World Wide Fund for Nature Pacific noted the value of “having communications strategies tailored to a country setting”. This was a valuable point as the NAPA 2 Project is currently developing a communications strategy and there was a request to share examples of existing strategies.

One of the most important themes emerging from the discussions was a need to ensure that community management plans integrated other priorities of islands such as waste management, climate change and disaster risk management.

As acknowledged by participants from both countries, a common mistake made by many projects was the isolation of priorities often leading to failure in the long run.

Whilst stakeholders of Fiji had several lessons to share with their counterparts from Tuvalu, it was also an opportunity for reflection. As the NAPA Project team discussed contextualisation of these experiences to Tuvalu’s situation, this was applicable to small islands in Fiji as well as those with smaller customary fishing grounds, iqoliqoli.

All 20 participants present were appreciative of the talanoa session, the first organised for stakeholders from Fiji and Tuvalu. Soseala Tinilau expressed his appreciation for the knowledge sharing session as it would “help the NAPA 2 project plan smartly”.

He also requested “more of such meetings in future” as they are mutually beneficial.

There are plans to either have NAPA 2 project officers attend national trainings facilitated by the Fiji Locally Managed Area network or having project officers and community reps from Tuvalu trained in country by the network.

newsroom@fijisun.com.fj

 




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