The Fiji Ministry of Environment and Conservation International Friday, 27 October 2023 sealed a five-year $USD7.2 million grant deal. This funding, generously provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), aims to protect Fiji’s rich land and marine environments.

The grant’s significant contribution recognises Fiji’s endeavors in protecting its natural spaces, supporting its ambitious goal of designating 30 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as Marine Protected Areas as well as the protection of terrestrial key biodiversity areas in alignment with the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan (NBSAP).

Reflecting on the significance of this collaboration, the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister, Pita Wise remarked: “Fiji stands at the forefront of marine and terrestrial conservation efforts. This grant is not only a recognition of our commitment but also an affirmation of the trust and shared vision between global partners like CI and GEF.”

“The objective of the project is to establish new marine and terrestrial protected areas within priority areas of biodiversity and strengthen Fiji’s protected area network, improve the management of key biodiversity areas in forests and coastal ecosystems to protect Fiji’s most threatened biodiversity, and strengthen policy and financing pathways to secure ecosystem services and other benefits to island communities into the future,” PS Wise said.

Susana Tuisese, Vice President for Conservation International’s Pacific Region expressed the importance of the grant in boosting Fiji’s national goals in protecting its land and ocean.

“With the support of this grant, we’re collaborating with the Ministry of Environment to roll out the Safeguarding Marine & Terrestrial Biodiversity in Fiji (SAMBIO) project, which is dedicated to preserving both marine and terrestrial biodiversity in Fiji. Through SAMBIO, the focus is to enhance the protection of Fiji’s vital areas, confront the factors causing biodiversity loss, offer socio-economic assistance to local communities and industries, and address the overarching challenges threatening our ecosystems,” said Tuisese.

“Our shared vision with the Fiji Government through SAMBIO project is comprehensive as we’re committed to not only safeguarding our natural habitats but also ensuring they’re managed sustainably with effective livelihood opportunities that will balance protection and production for the long run for both terrestrial and marine habitats.”

Highlighting the path ahead, Tuisese pointed to an enriched partnership with the Fiji government. They will work synergistically through the SAMBIO Project and its Partners, ensuring the benefit trickles down to both the natural ecosystem and the communities that depend on them.

Fiji’s Green Growth Framework, which emphasises sustainable development, supports this vision. As preparations for COP28 get underway, Tuisese is optimistic about the opportunities ahead, especially with Fiji’s Prime Minister championing the region’s ocean commitments on a global platform.

This story was originally published at Conservation International on 27 October 2023.

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