Serious about battling invasive species, the Kingdom of Tonga has confirmed their financial commitment of 1.5 million US dollars in the regional fight against invasive species.
This follows a similar commitment made by the Palau President HE Tommy Remengesau Jr earlier this month to combat invasive species in his country.
This is all positive news for the Pacific region and the management of invasive species.
“The government of Tonga is pleased to be able to do this and we look forward to succeeding in the battle against invasives. Resourcing must be in the order of a magnitude far greater than secured in the past if we are to collectively address this issue at national and regional levels,” says Mr Asipeli Palaki, CEO for the Tongan Ministry of Lands, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources.
“We fully understand the threats that invasive species pose, not only to our economy but also to our food security and way of life,” adds Mr Palaki.
The Tongan government recently endorsed its National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan (NISSAP) to combat invasive species. Part of Tonga’s financial commitment will contribute towards implementing their national activities as outlined in the NISSAP.
The Tongan commitment contributes to the Pacific regional project on invasive species coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
“We congratulate Tonga for their huge commitment. If we are to effectively deal with the invasive species threat to the region then the level of funding that we commit must be commensurate with the scale of the problem that we face, and Tonga has stepped up to help this,” says Mr. David Sheppard, Director-General of SPREP.
Invasive species are a key challenge to sustainable development in the Pacific region with severe consequences to communities, economies, resilience to climate change and threats to biological diversity. At the regional level numerous initiatives are underway to address this challenge. The development of NISSAPs is a particular focus of a project currently being implemented by SPREP and partners.
In 2013, at the 24th SPREP Meeting, Members directed SPREP to lead the formation of a Regional Invasive Species Project for submission to the 6th round of funding from the Global Environment Facility. Support was also given towards building the capacity of Pacific island countries to manage invasive species.
Pacific Leaders have also prioritised this battle against invasive species.
"The Pacific Leaders have called on SPREP and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to do more to support regional efforts against invasive species. We are pleased that developing this regional project with SPC and our partners is in support of the Pacific Leaders’ wishes," says Mr David Moverley, SPREP's Invasive Species Adviser.
“Having a commitment towards this project, as we have from Tonga, the biggest amount ever from any Pacific island government, is great news as it reaffirms the need for a regional coordinated approach in our battle against invasive species.”
The proposed regional project to help implement the NISSAPs aims to be a catalyst for non-GEF eligible countries to make similar commitments to meet this serious challenge that we face as a region.
“We hope that other countries who are eligible for the Global Environment Facility funds will make similar commitments to the regional project and that other funding agencies and partners will contribute to the project to help make it really successful,” said Mr Moverley.
The confirmation by Tonga was made at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) “Capacity Building Workshop for Small Island Developing States to achieve Aichi Biodiversity Target 9 on Invasive Alien Species”, in Montreal, Canada on the 14-15 June.
For more information please contact SPREP’s Invasive Species Adviser, Mr. David Moverley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo L – R: Atelaite Lupe Matoto (Tonga Deputy Director for Environment), Viliami Hakaumotu (Tonga Invasive Species Coordinator) ,David Moverley (SPREP Invasive Species Adviser), Asipeli Palaki, CEO for the Tongan Ministry of Lands, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resource.
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