Kia Orana kotou katoatoa,
I welcome our readers to the first edition of Te Kura Tavake for 2024 and I hope that you all had an enjoyable festive season. I take this opportunity to reflect on the past year and outline some of our key plans for the National Environment Service (NES) in 2024.
The strengthening of NES’s operational platform was completed in 2022 through the establishment of financial, human resources, processes and communication tools. In 2023, NES made progress in achieving some of its flagship projects and funding growth to meet its mandate to protect, conserve and manage the environment in the Cook Islands. Some of these key achievements include:
- Cabinet endorsed the National Environment Policy (NEP) 2022-32 to focus on six policy goals: Land, Marine, Water, Biodiversity, Air & Climate Change and Waste
- Passed the Environment Seabed Minerals Activities (ESMA) Regulation 2023
- Executive Council approved the island of Mangaia to come under the Environment Act 2003
- Launched the US$3.5 million Project E.N.U.A (Enhancing Nature’s Unique Areas), funded by the Global Environment Facility’s seventh replenishment phase (GEF-7)
- Secured US$8 million in international funding from the GEF’s eighth replenishment phase (GEF-8), which will contribute towards the GEF Circular Solutions to Plastic Pollution integrated programme, amongst other projects
- US$300k to update the Cook Islands’ National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan
- “Titā ki te Titā kore” project has collected over 90,000 kgs of waste in Rarotonga. This relates to end-of-life vehicles, whiteware and electronic waste
- High transparency rate of 81% and staff engagement rate of 86% for NES as per the OPSC’s Public Sector Leadership Survey 2023
The NES team reviewed its 5-year strategic framework and have identified where it would like to continue institutional strengthening to add value to the protection of the environment in the Cook Islands. In 2024, NES will focus on these six key areas:
- Pa Enua – develop work plans for each of the islands operating under the Environment Act, community programmes, resourcing and capacity building
- Research & Data – expedite work on data collection as per the NEP 2022-32 Monitoring and Evaluation framework
- Enforcement & Monitoring – ensure timely, decisive and proportionate enforcement action
- Technical capacity – accelerate the development of technical capacity to meet the needs of the public. The technical areas are covered in Part 6 of the NES Annual Report 2022.23
- Legislation – progress the new Environment bill for consultations and parliamentary proceedings, and to consider subsequent supporting regulations to be passed
- Education & Awareness – continue to communicate NES’s work to all stakeholders
NES remains invested in its people by providing more capacity building opportunities for existing staff, including continue to grow its number of environment or science graduates. Recruitment of vacant positions in the Pa Enua will be completed in the coming weeks.
Finally, we welcome your input and contributions as we work together to build a strong environment for the Cook Islands. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org you wish to reach out on any matters relating to NES.
Director of the National Environment Service