NES signs MOU with Monash University

"The University perceives the Clinic as the first step in building an ongoing partnership with the Cook Islands to work together to confront other pressing global environmental issues such as climate change.”

Enhancing Cook Islands capacity and learning opportunities when it comes to science, environment and legal policy is at the core of a partnership between the National Environment Service and Monash University in Australia.

Signed on the margins of the Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on Plastic Pollution including in the Marine Environment, this Memorandum of Understanding also provides Monash University with the opportunity to increase its knowledge about the Cook Islands environment and her people.

Underpinning a “teamwork” approach to complement each other’s strengths, expertise and resources – this partnership has a multi-layered approach.  It will help strengthen the Cook Islands at the global level as the Pacific Island negotiates for a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution including in the marine environment through the INC.  It will also support work at the national level across the Cook Islands through technical assistance provided when sought.

“The Cook Islands National Environment Service is encouraged by this partnership that helps us learn from each other, bringing about a resilient Cook Islands environment for all,” said Mr Halatoa Fua, Director of NES.

“We are excited by the potential of this partnership in building the capacity of our teams.  For the Cook Islands that resides in an EEZ of close to two million sqm – environmental conservation, protection and management is a priority for so many of us.  We know this partnership will reap many benefits in this area.”

Spanning a three-year period, the first action stemming from this is the support team of students to undertake research and provide reviewing support for the Cook Islands delegation negotiating in the INC process for plastic pollution including in the marine environment.

Associate Professor Gerry Nagtzaam of the Monash Law School who will be leading the new Global Plastic Law Clinic stated: “This will not only be an amazing opportunity for students to participate in and learn about these critical international negotiations, but also to offer real time legal research assistance to the Cook Island delegation before and during ongoing INC negotiations.” 

Further he said: “Monash University remains committed to having a continuing educational and research presence in the South Pacific region.   The University perceives the Clinic as the first step in building an ongoing partnership with the Cook Islands to work together to confront other pressing global environmental issues such as climate change.” 

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 24 April 2024, in Ottawa Canada on the sidelines of the fourth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on the plastic pollution including in the marine environment from 23 – 29 April 2024.

“We congratulate the Cook Islands for their new partnership that will support our SPREP Member on their journey towards Pacific resilience,” said Mr Anthony Talouli, Director of the Waste Management and Pollution Control of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“We look forward to the continued impact the Cook Islands is making with this enhanced support as we approach the final leg of the INC process for an ambitious legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.”

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About Nes

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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