Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, discussed key environmental issues facing pacific nations at a meeting in Samoa on September 6.
It is the first time in a decade that an Australian minister has attended this biennial meeting of Pacific Environment Ministers.
Representatives from 21 Pacific Island nations, New Zealand, the US, France and the UK were present in a bid to tackle marine pollution among other environmental issues.
The meeting was the peak event of the 29th Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) meetings.
“Australia’s presence here builds on the outcomes of the recent Pacific Islands Forum, and reinforces Prime Minister Morrison’s message that Australia appreciates the issues faced by the Pacific are real and immediate,” said Evans.
“Australia is fully engaged and strongly committed to working through these shared challenges in our region.”
Discussions amongst the Ministers and senior officials ranged across marine plastic pollution, marine conservation reserves, building climate resilience, and seabed mining, and all were united in their commitment to strong outcomes for the Pacific environment and its people.
“A healthy and clean Pacific Ocean is essential to the quality of life and economic security of all Pacific Island Nations.
“There are some tough and critical issues and no easy answers. But reaching shared solutions means having the conversation and mapping out agreed practical actions. That’s what we are doing with our friends and neighbours in the Pacific and that’s what’s reflected in our communique from this meeting,” Evans said.
Australia is working with Pacific nations to tackle environmental issues with funding, including investing $16 million in the Pacific Ocean Litter Project to tackle plastics polluting the region’s marine environment.