Conservation International applauds the historic commitments to Ocean Conservation at Pacific Islands Forum


Outcomes of the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum include several of the largest and most unprecedented commitments to the Pacific Oceanscape

Rarotonga, Cook Islands — For the third consecutive year, the Pacific Islands Forum has provided historic international commitment to sustainable ocean management and conservation, keeping in line with its theme, "Large Ocean States — the Pacific Challenge." These included the launch of the world's biggest marine park by the government of the Cook Islands, plans to create an even larger marine protected area by the government of New Caledonia, plans to create the world's largest  transboundary protected area collaboration in the Phoenix Islands between the United States and Kiribati governments, and the announcement of a Pacific Islands oceans investment package by the World Bank.

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"To hear the leaders speak about the Pacific Oceanscape as their own vision gives us all hope that a new era in marine conservation is upon us. The Oceanscape has been officially adopted by the entire forum as an essential platform of their collaboration with each other and with their outside development partners, including Australia, the European Union, the World Bank, the U.N., China, the U.S., New Zealand, and France," said Peter Seligmann, Chairman and chief executive officer at Conservation International. "Special thanks must be given to President Anote Tong of Kiribati, CI's newest board member whose inspired leadership brought the vision of the Oceanscape to the forum, and to Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands, whose strong support and recent marine park commitment has continued the strong growth and advancement of the Pacific Oceanscape's protected areas."

The most immediate and ground breaking announcement was from the host country, the Cook Islands, which launched their new marine park which at 1.2 million square kilometers (386,000 square miles), is equal to the size of Egypt, half of the nation's territory, and the largest marine park in the world.

However, they may not hold this position for long as the government of New Caledonia also announced its intention to establish a 1.4 million square kilometer (540,500 square mile) marine protected area in their portion of the Coral Sea, adjacent to Australia's newly protected one million square kilometers of their portion of the Coral Sea. The protected area includes the world's largest lagoon of approximately 24,000 square kilometers. New Caledonia's MPA is also a milestone pledge as this is the first contribution made to the Pacific Oceanscape from Melanesia as well as from a French overseas territory.

Another groundbreaking announcement came from the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an observer at the Forum, who pledged to deepen the U.S. relationship in the region by strengthening the conservation commitment between the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) and form the Phoenix Ocean Arc across the archipelago. With an area of 800,000 square kilometers (308,880 square miles), it will be the largest, whole archipelago, trans-boundary conservation partnership in history.

In support of such substantial government commitments, CI also applauds the World Bank announcement of a Pacific Islands ocean investment package which is to be supported by a number of partners from the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO). This package will build on existing ocean activities in the region such as the Pacific Oceanscape Framework and target priorities where financing gaps have been identified, or where innovation and private sector engagement can help to transform markets for ocean goods and services toward greener and sustainable production.
"These excellent results for the Pacific Oceanscape show the world that the leaders here understand the urgency needed to protect this huge swath of the Pacific," said Dr. Greg Stone, chief scientist for Oceans and executive vice president for Conservation International.  "The commitments from the Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Kiribati, the United States as well as the World Bank serve as a validation to all those who have been working so hard on this extraordinary initiative."

Covering over 10 percent of the world's ocean area, the Pacific Oceanscape provides a framework for the integrated conservation management of the Pacific Ocean and Islands, including ocean health and security, governance, sustainable resource management, increased research and knowledge investment and facilitating the partnerships and cooperation needed to support the conservation this vast ecosystem.

Conservation International (CI) has worked closely with Pacific Islands Leaders, their regional intergovernmental agencies, and civil society to develop the Pacific Oceanscape Framework which was endorsed formally in 2010. CI has also contributed to other marine commitments in the region including the, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, Coral Triangle Initiative and the Micronesia Challenge.

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Emmeline Johansen
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Kevin Connor
Media Manager, (U.S.)
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