NES scales up action for 2023
Kia Orana kotou katoatoa,
May I take this opportunity to welcome you all to Te Kura Tavake’s first edition for 2023, as we continue to provide the latest news and updates from the National Environment Service (NES).
We start the new year by welcoming our new Minister of Environment, the Honourable Albert Nicholas, to champion the protection of our environment and ensure a sustainable trajectory is paved for our present and future generations.
NES is a government agency committed to delivering “Ipukarea Tumanava”, its vision for a clean, green, and sustainable Cook Islands. Sustainability and conservation are at the heart of what we do, and we must implement the necessary control measures to achieve it.
Reflecting back on 2022, NES invested heavily in its people and systems to build a strong foundation for the development of the broader environment sector. This commitment is embodied in NES’s 5-year strategic framework, aimed at strengthening our systems in order to achieve our core functions – environmental protection and management.
- Some of the key deliverables achieved include:
Completed the National Environment Policy (NEP) 2022-32, which is currently with Cabinet Services for endorsement
- Updated NES’s organisational structure to embed communications, digitalisation, research, and local partnerships
- Launched the Environmental Communications Strategy (ECS 2022-27) with a suite of tools such as the new website, social media, electronic direct mail, digital forms, videos, and factsheets
- Overhauled the Environmental Compliance processes and published clear communications for public use
- Formed the NES-Science & Technical Advisory Committee to establish technical input to the Island Environment Authorities
- Launched the first National Environment Survey
- Introduced a performance management system to promote capacity development and operational efficiency
Looking ahead to 2023, NES will intensify its efforts to focus on achieving the following key priorities:
- Overhaul of the Environment legislation to introduce a new bill and associated regulations that meet our current and emerging needs
- Explore financial instruments to address the legacy waste crisis in the Cook Islands relating to end-of-life vehicles, e-waste and whiteware
- Strengthen technical capacity and source specialised expertise in relevant environment and science fields
- Implement the Global Environment Facility programme known as GEF7, and other donor funded programmes that are primarily focused on conservation and biodiversity protection
- Developments in strategic environmental areas relating to biodiversity, coastal protection and waste
- Improve the quality of NES financial statements and auditor’s opinion
- Activate environment awareness activities for public engagement
- Scope future strategies to transition to a green economy
As part of this effort, NES will strengthen its representation in international obligations known as Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). This primarily includes the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD), Basel and Stockholm Conventions, Montreal Protocol on Substances that Delete the Ozone Layer, Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNCCD) and the current negotiations for a legally binding global treaty to end plastic pollution.
NES will continue to invest in its people by providing more capacity building opportunities for existing staff and grow its number of environment or science graduates. New positions under the GEF7 programme will be advertised in the first quarter of 2023.
However, we know that we cannot deliver this work alone. We need your support as members of the community and key stakeholder groups. In the last quarter of 2023, we plan to conduct a National Environment Forum that requires your engagement and deliberations so we can collectively achieve our shared environment visions and goals for the Cook Islands.
As we ease COVID19 restrictions and more development occurs, the success of our economic and social activities is not possible if environmental sustainability is compromised. At NES we are committed to delivering our services as public servants. We are excited about the prospects in 2023 and we welcome your support to achieve the changes required to protect our environment.
Director of the National Environment Service