Cook Islands to strengthen its commitment to the Noumea Convention

The meeting also focused on the issue of plastic pollution, receiving updates on ongoing negotiations for an internationally binding agreement to combat plastic pollution, with a particular emphasis on its impact in marine environments. Parties acknowledged the support received and urged for continued financial assistance from donor partners.
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The Cook Islands, a party to the Noumea Convention, recently attended the 17th Contracted Parties to the Convention (COP) for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region and related Protocols 1986 (Noumea Convention) held on Thursday 31st August in Apia, Samoa. 

The convention, established in 1986, aims to protect natural resources and the environment in the South Pacific Region. It pivoted to focusing on the protection, management and development of the marine and coastal environment.

The COP was attended by Party members and observers and facilitated by SPREP. 

The Convention has 12 parties, including Australia, the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and the United States.

New Zealand was elected as Chairperson, with Solomon Islands taking on the role of Vice Chairperson for the Convention. The Secretariat presented comprehensive reports covering activities from July 2021 to June 2023, in alignment with the Noumea Convention’s provisions. Parties submitted reports on their national efforts to implement obligations under the Noumea Convention for the period spanning July 2021 to June 2023.

An Outcomes Report emerging from the Ad Hoc Meeting of the Parties, centred on reviewing the Noumea Convention, was discussed and acknowledged. The meeting noted a set of recommendations, including proposed revisions, and encouraged Parties to engage in intersessional discussions to endorse a Work Plan and Budget for implementing these recommendations.

The meeting also focused on the issue of plastic pollution, receiving updates on ongoing negotiations for an internationally binding agreement to combat plastic pollution, with a particular emphasis on its impact in marine environments. Parties acknowledged the support received and urged for continued financial assistance from donor partners.

Further, the development of a new regional oil spill response mechanism, PACPLAN-Plus, spanning the period from 2026 to 2035, gained endorsement. The first phase, focusing on feasibility, was set in motion.

Lastly, in discussions around other business, several countries underscored the necessity for enhanced awareness and engagement concerning the Noumea Convention. Parties highlighted their endeavours to phase out single-use plastics and underscored the significance of elevating public awareness and fostering collaboration among Parties to fulfil Convention requirements.

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The National Environment Service is established to protect, conserve and ensure the Cook Islands environment is managed sustainably. The agency is headed by a Director with delegated powers to carry out the functions of the Environment Act 2003.

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