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         11 October 2002

In November, the United Nations University (UNU), in conjunction with the Government of Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and with the financial support of the United Nations Development Programme office in Papua New Guinea, will be undertaking an environmental management case study in Papua New Guinea.

Funding for the new study comes on the back of a recently released UNU/SPREP policy report on the Inter-linkages Initiative in the Pacific Islands. This report focuses on the various ways in which the "inter-linkages" approach to the negotiation, ratification and implementation of international and regional environmental agreements can be of particular benefit to the Pacific Island states. "Inter-linkages" is an approach to environmental management that seeks to better utilize the synergies that exist naturally in the physical environment. The UNU has been working on "inter-linkages" ever since it hosted an international conference on the subject in Tokyo in mid-1999.

The Pacific Island report is based on case studies undertaken in 2001, which reviewed and analysed national and regional governance procedures and structures in three Pacific Island countries: Palau, Vanuatu, and the Cook Islands. The case studies examined all aspects of the environmental governance process, including the negotiations, strategic planning, legal frameworks, finance mechanisms, information management, consultation and coordination, capacity building, awareness raising and education, NGO participation, and various other institutional and organizational issues. All interested stakeholders have now been provided with copies of the report for possible incorporation into their planning processes.

The report focuses on the identification of gaps and weaknesses in the current system of environmental management, and opportunities for improved efficiency and effectiveness. One of the key weaknesses highlighted, relates to the general failure to link local and domestic environmental issues with the objectives of various international environmental agreements. There is also a noticeable absence of integrated capacity building among the countries studied, and inadequate information flows can sometimes leave key government agencies in the dark in regard to the most recent of their country's international environmental commitments.

Also highlighted in the report is the need to strengthen coordination between the negotiation and implementation stages of environmental agreements in order to make national and regional policies and strategies more comprehensive and more responsive to a wider range of sustainable development priorities. A greater level of coordination, at all levels, could be achieved through increasing information flows, unifying reporting systems, and establishing joint or shared data management mechanisms for multiple agreements.

Most of the problems encountered in the Pacific Island states relate to their limited human and financial resources. Experience sharing and joint capacity development within the region would go a long way to reducing the impact of these limitations. Furthermore, the secretariats of each environmental convention, along with relevant regional organizations such as SPREP, could play an important role in facilitating regional cooperation in the implementation of environmental agreements.

The UNU has conducted similar studies in cooperation with ASEAN, and a report based on these cases will be released in December 2002. A similar ten-country study in East and West Africa is currently under preparation.

More information about the Initiative can be found at:

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For project related inquiries, please contact:
e-mail: Jerry Velasquez

For press inquiries, please contact:
UNU Public Affairs Section,
Tel. (03) 5467-1243, -1246; Fax (03) 3406-7346




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