JCS Graduation Group Photo 2019

Over 30 Pacific Island environmental practitioners and government officials from 14 countries received post graduate certificates in Ridge to Reef Sustainable Development from James Cook University ahead of their formal graduation in Townsville, Australia next year.

As part of the Global Environment Facility-funded Pacific Ridge to Reef Programme, the innovative post-graduate training program in Integrated Water and Coastal Management aims to strengthen local capacity and establish a cadre of island-based project managers and technicians.

Mr Levan Bouadze, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program which is the implemented agency for this project noted that “UNDP is honoured to partner with The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Pacific Community (SPC), National Governments and Development Partners in implementing this project.”

“Our enduring commitment is to improve resilience of the Pacific Island nations, help them protect their rich biodiversity and secure their ecosystems.”

SPC Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Deputy Director Rhonda Robinson explained: “The achievement of best practices in integrated management in Pacific Island countries relies on local capacity for Integrated Coastal Management and Integrated Water Resource Management.”

"This is constrained by the scarcity and limited sharing of specialist expertise and technical resources for integrated resource management in the region, which is why this is a significant milestone achievement not just for the programme, but for sustainable development of participating countries, the region and globally,” he emphasized.

James Cook University Deputy Vice Chancellor Tropical Environments and Societies Professor Marcus Lane said: “We are very proud to partner with SPC on this very important initiative to build much need capacity in the region in Ridge to Reef Sustainable Development.”

“The custom designed course was developed specifically for the R2R programme and practitioners to improve governance and enable positive contribution to some of the world's most pressing environmental challenges and leading international debates through its application to the implementation of national projects.

Cook Islands National R2R Project Coordinator, Maria Tuoro, explained that she does not have an environmental background and the course has improved her capacity to manage this project by providing a suite of units tailored for practitioners.

Palau IW R2R Project Manager Leena Mesebeluu was delighted to complete the course and explained that it is already helping her with her work in Palau.

“I am very proud that after the project management course we were able to develop a partnership proposal and pitch it to the bureau of tourism and we are now going to prepare best practice guidelines for terrestrial tourism for the bureau’s implementation,” she explained.

Vanuatu International Waters R2R Project Manager Ericksen Packett said: “Graduating from the course helped me understand the how to better plan, manage and implement projects contributing to the sustainable development of Vanuatu.”

The course comprises of four units, including: Ecosystem Dynamics, Project Management, R2R tools and Environmental Governance. Graduates commenced the Post Graduate Diploma on August 2.

The attendance ceremony was held at the conclusion of the Pacific R2R 4th Regional Steering Committee in Nadi yesterday.

The official graduation ceremony will take place in Townsville, Australia in April 2020.