The UN Joint Programme on Ecosystem Services Launched to Support Valuation and Mainstreaming of Ecosystem Services into Recovery and Resilience Pathways, and Development Policy and Planning in Samoa
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 wellbeing 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, build 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.”
Ms. Peseta Noumea Simi 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 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 enabling Samoa to assess and track the state and trends of its natural resources and wealth; identify and keep track of species that are at risk of becoming endangered, threatened or extinct and hence require enhanced conservation effort, and valuate the benefits that the country gets from nature.
In this way, the outputs of the Joint Programme will provide a dynamic information base that will a) help the country to ensure that the development of policy instruments is informed by reliable environmental data and observable facts; b) help the private sector, businesses and those dealing with financial investment to understand the potential, value and opportunities in nature and in conservation; and c) help the country to ascertain and monitor incremental progress in the state of its environment. She explained that this would form a basis for stimulating and building confidence for public and private investment in nature-based solutions to the challenges and impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss and ecological degradation; and for the development of environmental trading schemes like carbon offset and payment for ecosystem services schemes through which polluters would pay for impacts inflicted on the natural environment and people in Samoa would earn income from conserving the environment.
The bilateral and multilateral development partners, national institutions and stakeholders, CSOs, media, and private sector actors expressed enthusiasm for the Joint Programme, noting that it would put Samoa on a path to strengthened capacity to mainstream the value of the country’s beautiful nature into its economic and social decision-making and development systems and on a path to institutionalized natural capital accounting, which would ultimately enable the country to break barriers to conservation of the country’s natural resources and hence uphold the Samoan way of life and its value systems which are deeply embedded in nature.