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Capacity Building - Cook Islands National Environment Service
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Capacity Building

Cook Islands National Capacity Self Assessment for Global Environment Management Project (NCSA)


  • What is NCSA
  • What does it mean for the Cook Islands
  • NCSA Process and Output Reports


What is NCSA?

The National Environment Service (NES), with the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), is carrying out a National Capacity Self-Assessment for Global Environment Management Project.

The NCSA project aimed to assist countries to assess their priority national capacity needs for Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA’s). These MEAs include the United Nations Convention for Biodiversity (UNCBD), the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The NCSA is unique in that it promotes linkages among the three MEAs. Through the self-assessment, countries will identify capacity gaps and then come up with solutions to rectify these gaps.

The primary objective of an NCSA is to determine, through consultation with all Cook Islanders, national environment priorities and needs for capacity building and development. By recognizing these capacity gaps, a strategic plan of action can be developed to address our national priorities and our ability to meet our obligations to the Rio Conventions.

Project Objectives


  • Identify, confirm or review priority issues for action within the three thematic areas of biodiversity, climate change and land degradation
  • Explore related capacity needs within and across the three areas
  • Enhance targeted and coordinated actions and requests for future external funding and assistance
  • Link actions to the broader national environment management and sustainable development frameworks


What does the NCSA mean for the Cook Islands

In terms of our capacity to meet our environment priorities and obligations, the NCSA aims to determine what gaps exist at the national and community level, what the barriers are to successful implementation, and what actions could be taken to improve our capacity at the individual, institutional and systemic levels. Many individual assessments have been carried out over the years. Although stakeholders may already feel over-consulted, it is still important for the NCSA to be carried out to link these assessments for action. It is also important to consider that the final ‘Capacity Development Strategy and Action Plan’ for the Rio Conventions will support the development of further project funding opportunities related to capacity building and development in the Cook Islands for years to come.

Expected Outcomes

The NCSA contributes to strengthening existing national programmes, ensure national action to build capacity to protect the global and national environments and lead to targeted action plan development and implementation both within and across the thematic areas of biodiversity, climate change and land degradation. The project collated information on continuing programmes, institutional structures, resource availability and future prospects, training activities and relevant supporting policies and processes needed to sustain the implementation of MEAs obligations nationwide.

A key deliverable is the NCSA Action Plan, which outlines priority issues, capacity constraints and opportunities for capacity building.

The NCSA process is an institutional support mechanism that will allow us to identify areas where capacity building is needed, prioritise and coordinate efforts to strengthen national capacities. By involving various national agencies, institutions and organizations whose activities have important direct or indirect impacts on the environment, a coordinated approach for strengthening overall capacity should be devised. Addressing capacity needs at the systemic, institutional and individual levels and integrating them into wider sustainable development efforts will enhance our ability to manage our environment in a sustainable manner.

NCSA Process and Output Reports

Five phases in the NCSA Process:

1. Inception

During Inception, the administrative, management and consultative arrangements for the NCSA were organized. An Inception Report was compiled outlining these arrangements, the membership of the PMU and the NCSA Steering Committee.
Output: Inception Report (PDF)

2. Stocktake

The objective of the NCSA Stocktake was to review existing mechanisms and capacities of institutions and stakeholders. The stocktaking involved identifying all national activities and documents that are relevant to the convention themes as well as core national environmental priorities.
Output: National Stocktake Report (PDF)

3. Thematic Assessment

The main objective of this step is to analyse the Cook Islands obligations and opportunities from each Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) and assess our performance and achievements to date. This stage will involve in-depth analysis of our priority capacity needs and constraints related to the three focal areas to determine constraints and weaknesses.
Output: Thematic Profiles for Climate Change, Biodiversity and Land Degradation

4. Cross Cutting Analysis

The objective of the Cross cutting analysis is to assess priority capacity strengths, constraints, needs and opportunities that cut across the conventions. This includes identification of common needs and possible opportunities for synergies and linkages that could be achieved in the country by addressing the requirements across two or more thematic areas.
Output: Cross Cutting Report

5. Strategy and Action Plan

The Strategy and Action Plan will outline priority issues, capacity constraints and opportunities for capacity building and development as identified in the Thematic Assessment and Cross-Cutting Analysis phases of the NCSA.
Output: Capacity Development Strategy and Action Plan & NCSA Final Report

The Capacity Development Strategy and Action Plan will be used to mobilise support from Government and Donor Agencies to implement the strategies and actions needed to improve the Cook Islands management of global and environmental issues.


United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Website
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change

For further information contact:
Louisa Karika
Environment Officer
Island Futures Division