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Key Pacific Issues - Environment and the Oceans

Environment priorities for New Zealand in the Pacific include climate change, the protection of whales and concerns over the shipment of spent nuclear material through the region.

Pacific Island Countries are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  In many cases their populations and economic activities are concentrated in the low-lying coastal zones and are therefore vulnerable to climate variability and sea level rise.

At the Pacific Islands Forum in 2005, a Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change was endorsed as a regional mechanism to support responses to climate change and related issues for the next decade.  Rising global oil prices, as well as concern about the contribution that carbon emissions make to climate change, has led to an increased development of alternative energy sources, especially coconut oil.

New Zealand works closely with a number of PICs and regional organisations, including the Pacific Islands Forum and SPREP, on whale conservation issues.  New Zealand's whales conservation objectives include working towards the establishment of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary (SPWS) by the International Whaling Commission; the promotion of national whale sanctuaries; and support for regional initiatives such as the proposed CMS (Convention on Migratory Species) arrangement on marine mammal protection.

New Zealand strongly opposes the transport of nuclear materials through the Pacific Britain, France and Japan. Ten Pacific region countries, including New Zealand and Australia, have ratified the 1995 Waigani Convention , which bans the exporting of hazardous or radioactive waste to Forum island countries, and prohibits Forum island countries from importing such waste.

Forum island governments have taken a leading role in lobbying for responsible use of the world’s oceans. At the 2002 Forum meeting, Leaders approved the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Policy. This sets out an action plan for sustainable use and encourages members to become parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea .

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Page last updated: Monday, 09 December 2013 13:45 NZDT