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Address at the launching of FOA funded projects | PS Forestry and Acting PS Fisheries Pene Baleinabuli | 17th February 2021

-          The Assistant Representative for FAO in Fiji, Ms. Joann Young

-          Senior representatives of the various Government agencies

-         Representatives of Vinaka Fiji Ms. Elenoa Nimacere and Mamanuca Environment Society Ms. Marica Vakacola

-          Distinguished Guests

-          Members of the media

-          Ladies and Gentlemen

A very good morning to you all. It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to the signing of two projects: The International Climate Initiative (IKI) project under the Ministry of Forestry and The Adaptive Fisheries Management project under the Ministry of Fisheries.

As the Permanent Secretary responsible for both Ministries, and on behalf of the two Ministers, I wish to acknowledge the efforts of all our stakeholders in ensuring that these two Projects are successfully negotiated and made ready for signing today.

And, on behalf of the Fijian Government, I wish to extend our collective appreciation to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for its continuing commitment to supporting Fiji.

Fiji’s relationship with the FAO spans over 50 years. And Fiji and our people have been the greater beneficiary out of this relationship with numerous development projects not only in agriculture, as the FAO name suggests, but increasingly in other areas of need.

I also extend our appreciation to the Civil Society Organisations that we will be partnering with in implementing the projects we are signing today.

Brief on the International Climate Initiative (IKI)

Ladies and gentlemen, the International Climate Initiative (IKI) is an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) that has been financing climate and biodiversity projects, in developing and newly industrialising countries, as well as in countries in transition. The Initiative places clear emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation; conserving natural carbon sinks with a focus on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and conserving biological diversity.

In the funding area for conserving natural carbon sinks, the Initiative supports partner countries in particular in implementing the international mechanism for REDD+ in developing countries as well as projects to support the approach of Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) as part of the Bonn Challenge; especially within the framework of the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The IKI funding represents a great opportunity to support Fiji’s commitment towards climate change mitigation and the reduction of land degradation.

The IKI Project in Fiji

The global/multi-country Project will support Fiji’s commitment for Forest Landscape Restoration. This Project is aligned with the strategies developed to reach the goals for sustainable development defined by Fiji at the international, regional and national levels, specifically on Sustainable and climate smart practices promoted to help build resilient agriculture, fisheries and forestry production systems.

The Project Document which has been endorsed by Cabinet is required to be executed for the Project implementation in Fiji. The FAO will provide the technical assistance for the duration of this project which is in 2022.

Project Partners

The 3 key project partners are the Ministry of Forestry, Vinaka Fiji and the Mamanuca Environment Society. FAO will play a coordination role of the Project and will also provide overall technical guidance. Letters of Agreements will be signed between FAO and these entities to implement the project activities.

Consultation with Stakeholders

Since the project development phase, consultations were held with community representatives from the Mamanucas and the Yasawas (proposed project sites) as well as with partner organisations that are currently working in the Yasawas and Mamanucas, which are Mamanuca Environment Society and Vinaka Fiji.

Other key stakeholders that had been identified and consulted include: Ministry of Economy (Climate Change Division); Ministry of Waterways & Environment; Ministry of Forestry; Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of iTaukei Affairs (Ba Provincial Office, Nadroga Provincial Office); Ministry of Fisheries; and Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development.

Project Budget

The total budget of the Project is 4.8 million Euros which is for three regions, six countries and a global component over a four-year period. Of the 1.5 million Euros allocated for the Pacific Islands, 450,000 Euros is targeted for Fiji. 345,000 Euros is to be given by FAO to Fijian partners through Letters of Agreements and the remaining funds are dedicated to coordination and technical assistance provided by FAO.

Adaptive Fisheries Management

Ladies and gentlemen, in terms of the Adaptive Fisheries Management Project, Fiji, like all Pacific Islands nations, has a vast wealth of oceanic resources but also has experienced the effects of climate change.

Our coastal fisheries and marine resources are a cornerstone of food security. It is coastal fisheries that deliver the vast majority of food security and nutrition and are an important contributor to livelihoods for our people.

The FAO and the Ministry of Fisheries have collaborated for many years including on emergency support for fisheries and aquaculture stakeholders in Fiji which was strengthened after from TC Winston and continues to the current support for those affected by TC Yasa and TC Ana.

 The project we are signing today will build resilience for our coastal communities - not only in response to the impacts from the ever changing climate but also from the COVID-19 global pandemic

The project will support improved integration of fisheries and aquaculture into of disaster response, address gaps in value chains with a view to supporting women vendors and enable coastal communities to adapt strategies for management and use of near-shore resources including through a focus on gender equity.

Through this project, which will bring together Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, with a total funding of 1.4 million USD from the Government of Canada, will strengthen the mainstreaming of gender equity in fisheries, develop programs and capacity to ensure that the fisheries sector is quick to respond and coordinate recovery after natural disasters, continue to further strengthen the services provided by fisheries officers to rural communities, bring together user groups across platforms to share information and knowledge and support the improvement of value chains to improve livelihoods and resilience of coastal communities.


Ladies and gentlemen, the signing of these projects is yet another indication of Fiji’s continuing efforts to progress its commitments towards the various international conventions and treaties it is a signatory to.

These include but are not limited to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), among others.

These conventions and treaties are embedded in Fiji’s national strategic documents including the National Development Plan (5 Year and 20 Year), National Adaptation Plan (2018), and the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2017-2024).

I am also pleased to state that these plans form the basis for both the Ministries of Fisheries and Forestry’s Strategic Development Plans, and which we will now amend to cater for the new normal brought on by COVID-19.

I once again acknowledge the unwavering efforts of the FAO representatives in the Pacific and indeed in Fiji, and our development partners.

Both the Ministries of Fisheries and Forests look forward to the successful implementation of the Agreements made today and to ensure that the projects benefit our communities and the Nation as a whole.

Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu

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