Software company's pledge answers international challenge by Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, at 2011 Eye on Earth Summit
Arlington, VA — A recent commitment by the U.S.-based
Geographic Information System (GIS) software company Esri
marks a crucial demonstration of innovative leadership in marine
conservation, said leaders from Conservation International, attending the Eye on
Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi earlier this month. At the Summit, Esri committed
to build a database for the new Cook Islands Marine Park to aid in the spatial
planning of the one million square kilometer park, which was officially declared
earlier this year by Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna.
The commitment followed Prime Minister Henry Puna's challenge to the
international community at the summit, to provide support to developing
countries who have expressed a commitment to protecting the oceans.
"Working with Esri in the development of initiatives that will lead to better
management of our ocean and a more secure future for all Cook Islanders is a
very exciting development that underlines the global significance of our marine
park declaration," Prime Minister Puna said.
The Cook Islands Marine Park is a large addition to the Pacific
Oceanscape, an innovative commitment by 16 Pacific Island governments
to integrated marine conservation and sustainable management across
approximately 40 million sq km of ocean. Prime Minister Puna and the Cook
Islands delegation was joined at the summit by Teuea Toatu, Executive Director
of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in Kiribati, and a delegation from
Conservation International (CI) which has committed technical and scientific
assistance to implement the Pacific Oceanscape since its inception.
"The Pacific Islands are leading the world in marine conservation, and the
commitment by the Cook Islands of one million sq/ km. of its Exclusive Economic
Zone to a marine park is the latest example of this. The support announced by
Esri and the University of California Santa Barbara will make a crucial
difference to achieving a globally-significant conservation area, and will set
the standard for future innovation in the Pacific Islands." Michael
Donoghue, Executive Director of Conservation International's Pacific Islands
Esri, in partnership with University of California, Santa Barbara and the
UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, agreed to assign two senior
scientists to bring together all the available information on the marine park
into a single digital platform, and to train Cook Islands people to operate it.
The project will begin in early 2012 with a stakeholder meeting in
"We came here to see cutting-edge initiatives for the collection of
environmental data and investigate how we can improve access to information in
the Pacific Islands," Prime Minister Puna said. "There is much work to be done
to fulfill the promise of our marine park, but we now have some innovative
partners in our endeavour, and the Cook Islands is now clearly positioned as a
global leader in marine conservation and a champion of island states."
"The mission of the Eye on Earth summit is to develop recommendations for how
data sharing can be used to make a clear path toward sustainability," said Jack
Dangermond, Esri founder and President. "Esri is proud to provide the technical
support through our most recent innovation, ArcGIS Online, which will help to
make the Cook Islands Marine Park initiative and the Cook Island Government's
vision a reality."
Prime Minister Puna was the keynote speaker at the third day of the summit,
which is focused on information gathering and sharing to provide for a
sustainable future. The 4-day summit attracted over a thousand delegates from
around the world and had a line-up of prestigious guest speakers including Dr.
Jane Goodall, Dr. Sylvia Earle and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
"The range of expertise and technological innovation that was on display at
the summit was remarkable, and I was very encouraged at the support that was
offered from so many quarters," said Kevin Iro, a member of the Cook Islands
Marine Park Steering Committee. "It has become even clearer to me that the Cook
Islands is on the right track in developing our marine park, not only for the
benefit of our own future generations, but also as a significant contribution to
the future of the global oceans."
Esri is a global leader in GIS technology and software, with more than
350,000 organisations using its products globally.
The Cook Islands Marine Park, the world's largest marine park, is scheduled
to be officially established at the next meeting of the Pacific Islands Leaders
Forum, to be held in the Cook Islands in August 2012 and will be a major focus
of this forum.
Available content for media (***Please Provide Image
Download photos available for media
For more information, contact:
Asia Pacific Communications Manager, Conservation International
mobile +68 92 968 872
Executive Director, Pacific Islands Programme,
mobile (64) 21 870310
Note to editors:
Conservation International (CI) —
Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field
demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for
nature, our global biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded
in 1987, CI has headquarters in the Washington, DC area, and 900 employees
working in nearly 25 countries on four continents, plus 1,000+ partners around
the world. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @ConservationOrg.