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From understanding, to the practical application of Ridge to Reef principles, the Pacific R2R Programme has presented participating Pacific Island countries an opportunity to test, refine, replicate and upscale an emerging and sustainable, development paradigm. Longer-term investment in R2R mainstreaming, concepts, practices and policies could prove model for up-scaling at the level of large continental river basins, linked coastal and marine areas.

As an integral part of the GEF strategy, the Pacific R2R Programme has provided unique opportunities to support country capacity development (formally and informally) of local professionals to sustainably govern and manage their priority environmental issues and contribute to global environmental benefits.

To highlight some of the impacts of the training and capacity building activities to date, the Regional Programme Coordination Unit conducted a rapid online survey serves to showcase experiences.

In 2017, the Pacific Community (SPC) R2R programme partnered with James Cook University to deliver the Post Graduate Program in Ridge to Reef Sustainable Development. The R2R post graduate programme provides educational pathways from 2 years for the certificate to an additional year for the diploma.

Participating countries include: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia , Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshal Islands , Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.


Silia Leger

Job title

National Project Coordinator/Project Manager




IW R2R Project

Organization name

Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources


Which formal (accredited) capacity building/training activity has been the most successful for your project and/or stakeholders?

Ecosystem Dynamics, Project Mangement, R2R Tools, R2R Governance, Best Practice Management Tools, Integrated Management of R2R Ecosystems, Technical Stream

Why have each of these that you have identified been successful?

My knowledge and understanding of our Ecosystems and its connectivity have increased since 2017 together with the other trainings, it has really helped with my role as the Project Manager for the Tonga IW R2R. And this is justifiable by the performance of our project over time to date. 

What were your key learnings from each subject you identified as successful?

Ecosystems - connectivity 

How have you applied these key learnings in your work? Please give examples.

 Learning about the connectivity of Ecosystems has given me the ability to make better decisions on natural resources management within the project activities. 

What opportunities has applying these learning provided for your community/country? Please give examples.

I think Tonga IW R2R has been one of the late and slow starters for implementation. But there has been a tremendous improvement from Tonga's project performance. And to me, part of this reason is the JCU course. 

The other point that I would like to raise is that, for a Pilot Project with such limited funds as compared to millions amounted projects, I think Tonga IW R2R has shown a great impact. 

In conclusion, perhaps all we need in Tonga and other Pacific Island countries is a better understanding of our Ecosystems, their connectivity and how to manage them, and of course, the passion to make a difference for our Pacific Islands future. We do not have to wait and rely on Aid and Funds to make an impact! 

What were some of the challenges you faced with the formal training and capacity building activities? 

To me the most challenging was finding the time to study, while being a Project manager amongst other responsibilities.