“In recognition of the new world order, which calls for all nations to take responsibility for their environmental impacts, and to cooperate in finding global solutions to global problems, our nation presents this document as an affirmation of its commitment to integrating the principals of sustainable development into national policy. As a nation composed largely of low-level atolls, we depend on reciprocal cooperation from developed and developing countries alike to halt global warming and prevent devastating rise in average sea level.”
This is how the first head of state of the Marshall Islands, President Amata Kabua, endorsed the first ever State of Environment Report for the RMI in 1992. It was decided then that under RMI mandate, a similar report was to be published annually to update the status of the environment.
Since that 1992 report, however, no state of environment (SOE) report was made by government over the last 23 years — despite the fact that a majority of the task force members who signed off on the 1992 document have held government positions throughout this period.
It wasn’t until 2014 that the RMI government sought help from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) in order to initiate an updated SOE.
A SPREP team visited Majuro from their headquarters in Samoa last week with a draft product for further evaluation and comments — a state of environment report 2016, RMI’s first since 1992. The draft was produced based on information gleaned during workshops conducted in the Marshall Islands since 2014. The report is expected to be endorsed by government later this year.
During the Environmental Monitoring and Governance workshop at the Marshall Islands Resort’s Melele Room last week, the Journal was told that SPREP advises all Pacific island countries to produce their SOE report every five years, which other island nations have since followed — except RMI, which still has a mandate stating RMI must produce SOE reports annually. They advised RMI to revise their existing requirements to the five-year frequency.
In her foreword to the draft 2016 State of Environment Report, President Hilda Heine recommends all government agencies, its partners and donors, and civil society representatives use the new study to inform their actions related to the seven areas covered in the document: Atmosphere and Climate, Land, Marine, Biodiversity, Culture and Heritage, Built Environment, and Nuclear Legacy.
It was noted during last week’s workshop that not all RMI government representatives invited and expected to attend were present for the whole session. “These meetings are expensive,” commented a local. “Had the same conference taken place outside of Marshall Islands you’d have people lining up to go because there is travel and per diem involved. So we have what we have.”
A SPREP officer added that some of the high-level government officials had to step out to attend other workshops and said they are disappointed because they made arrangements for this week’s environmental consultation months in advance.
Read more about this in the October 28, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.