Mr. Joshua Wycliffe, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Waterways and Environment
Mr. Saimoni Waibuta, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and Chairman of the Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Areas (FLMMA) Network
Dr. Bibhya Sharma, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment, University of the South Pacific
NGO partners, colleagues from the Ministry of Waterways and Environment, other Fiji Ridge-to-Reef Stakeholders
Ladies and gentlemen:
Yadra vinaka and welcome to UNDP. Thank you for joining us today for the signing of implementation agreements under the Fiji Reef-to-Reef Project. This is an important milestone for the project, which is possibly the biggest partnership engagement in Fiji around the theme of ecosystems management and conservation, counting well over a dozen government and non-state institutions in its expansive implementation network.
Today, new partner organizations – the Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Areas (FLMMA) Network, the World Wide Fund for Nature Pacific, the Pacific Islands Rainforest Foundation and the USP’s Institute of Applied Sciences – will sign on as partners for the delivery of the Fiji Ridge to Reef Project.
The Fiji Ridge-to-Reef project was developed with the intention to maintain and enhance Fiji’s ecosystem goods and services through integrated approaches to land, water, forest, biodiversity and coastal resource management that contribute to poverty reduction, sustainable livelihoods and climate resilience.
Six focus catchment areas were designated under this project. In Viti Levu, they are the Waidina and Rewa River for the Central division, the Ba River and Tuva River in the Western division, and over in the Northern division, in Vanua Levu, those will be the Labasa River, Tunuloa River and the Vunivia catchments.
The Fiji R2R project is part of a growing network of integrated ridge-to-reef initiatives in the Pacific at country and regional levels. On a regional scale, the project is aligned to the goal of the Pacific Islands Multi-Focal Area R2R Programme, which aims to address national priorities of the Pacific Island Countries while delivering global environmental benefits.
Land and ocean ecosystems are a key focus of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Fiji R2R project contributes directly to SDG 2 through its fisheries, agricultural and forestry activities that will help achieve the ‘zero hunger’ global goal. It also contributes to SDG 13 on ‘climate action’ and SDG 15 on ‘life on land’ through forestry and biodiversity actions, specifically spearheading reforestation activities. And for SDG 14 focusing on ‘life below water’, the project assists protected areas and freshwater, estuarian and marine resource management actions.
We are pleased to reach this stage of the implementation process. It has been a long and painstaking effort to line up all these partnerships across sectors and institutions. This project will not succeed without all partners working hand in hand in a well-coordinated manner. We will continue to look towards the leadership of the Government of Fiji in delivering this important work.
On behalf of UNDP, I wish all our project partners the very best in bringing the intended benefits of the project to communities and ecosystems of Fiji Islands. UNDP stands ready to support you in realizing the goal of the R2R philosophy that aims to achieve better terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats, food security and environmental protection.