Apia: China has continued its support for a resilient Pacific environment with the presentation of its yearly financial assistance to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
SPREP is the lead agency in the Pacific region for managing and protecting the environment.
Chinese Ambassador to Samoa, Chao Xiaoliang, presented the annual financial assistance of USD 200,000 to the Director General of SPREP, Kosi Latu, during a ceremony at the SPREP Headquarters in Apia, Samoa.
It is the continuation of the annual contribution from China to the Secretariat since 1998.
The initial financial contribution of USD 150,000 was increased to USD 200,000 in 2017 as a result of a commitment from Chinese President Xi Jinping to support Pacific Islands and improve their capability to address climate change.
The Chinese Ambassador said climate change and environmental challenges are issues that concern the future of mankind, and provided an outline of steps taken by China to address them.
"Despite obstacles and hardship, China continues to update its goals for its Nationally Determined Contributions with great resolution, with its target for 2020 met three years ahead of schedule," he said in a press release on Wednesday.
He added that China and Pacific Island countries have always stood together to tackle climate change and environmental challenges, with China understanding the special difficulties of Pacific Island countries in tackling climate change.
"We will continue to assist Pacific Island countries in enhancing capacity building to tackle climate change under the framework of the South-South cooperation," Ambassador Xiaoliang added.
China is not part of SPREP’s Membership of 21 Pacific Island and five Metropolitan countries, but has continued to support the work of SPREP for more than 20 years.
"The generous contribution of the People’s Republic of China to SPREP has made a positive impact on the work of SPREP in climate change as well as all our strategic priorities through the strengthening of our core, which enables SPREP to be more responsive and adaptive to the needs of our Pacific Island countries and territories," said Director General Latu.
The Director General said the assistance from China enabled the Secretariat to carry out a variety of activities in 2020, including support for the 10th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, which became the largest virtual conference hosted in the Pacific with close to 4,000 participants from over 50 countries worldwide.
The contribution also enabled the Secretariat to continue building the capacity of its Members.
"With COVID-19, we have not been able to undertake in-country interventions and activities, so we have had to focus more on building capacity of member countries to respond to challenges such as ocean acidification,"Latu said.
"Most of the work done at SPREP has a communications component. It is very important that we tell our stories, and amplify the voices of the Pacific. The funding from China has been applied to various communications purposes that enable SPREP to tell its stories and raise awareness on various climate change issues," he concluded.