On 19th April 2022, the Government of Samoa in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO Office for the Pacific States), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) launched the UN Joint Programme on Ecosystem Services “Building Forward Better by Safeguarding Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services” which is targeted at supporting Samoa to develop the business case and evidence-base for the development of policies, plans and mechanisms for investing in the protection of ecosystems and ecosystem services as pathways towards accelerated action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The launching of the Joint Programme placed Samoa on a path towards gaining a deeper understanding of the true value of its natural wealth and the role it plays and could continue to play into the future in ensuring the well-being of the economy and people in Samoa, in line with the country’s aspirations for resilience and prosperity as set out in the SDG framework.
In her opening remarks, Ms Peseta Noumea Simi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) of Samoa, pointed to the very relevance of the Joint Programme to Samoa’s commitment to the UN Decade of Action for SDGs, the Ocean Decade and the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration as the basis for its ambition and effort to stop and reverse the nature-human conflict which has now become so apparent, and to uphold the wellbeing and dignity of all people in Samoa. She noted that “through the Joint Programme on Ecosystem Services, Samoa has the opportunity to realise the potential of, building capacity for and drive greater innovation in the development and management of science, data and information on the country’s natural capital, which is a crucial element in its drive for sustainable socio-economic policy and development.” She invited all governmental, non-governmental and private sector stakeholders in Samoa to support and align their interests to leverage the opportunities that the work and outcomes of the Joint Programme will create, highlighting the importance of the programme in empowering stakeholders and providing a platform for the development of enabling policy and environment for the creation of conservation market systems and initiatives for economic diversification in Samoa.
In the keynote address, Hon. Faleomavaega Titimaea Tafua, the Associate Minister for Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), pointed out that by enabling the country to build on and rationalize its base of environmental data, the Joint Programme on Ecosystem Services will contribute significantly towards