The Acting Dean FSTE, Dr Bibhya Sharma (centre) at the signing of the Fiji R2R agreement
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) has signed a multi-partnership agreement worth USD 1.5 million on 17 October 2018 on a project aimed to improve climate resilience and to sustain livelihoods in Fiji.
Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the three-year Ridge to Reef (R2R) project is facilitated by the UNDP and the Fiji Government’s Ministry of Waterways and Environment.
The Fiji R2R Project intends to preserve biodiversity, ecosystem services, sequester carbon, improve climate resilience and sustain livelihoods through a ridge-to-reef management of six (6) priority water catchments on the two (2) main islands of Fiji. The catchments include Waidina-Rewa, Tuva and Ba on Viti Levu and Labasa, Vunivia and Tunuloa on Vanua Levu.
In collaboration with development partners, namely the Government of Fiji and Non-Governmental Organisations, the project will address key environmental issues in an integrated manner. It will bolster Fiji’s national system of marine protected areas through an enhanced and sustainable system of Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) including greater protection of threatened marine species.
It also aims to reduce the negative impacts of land-based activities on the Marine Protected Areas through the development and implementation of integrated catchment management plans.
This includes mangrove protection and adoption of appropriate sustainable land use practices. It also covers riparian restoration in adjoining upstream watersheds as well as terrestrial protected areas, restored and rehabilitated forests.
IAS was nominated as the appropriate and capable institute to conduct the necessary scientific and baseline studies that will provide key information for project partners tasked with effecting terrestrial and marine protected area management plans across all the six (6) catchments.
IAS assembled a team comprising of scientists, technicians and experts in the various relevant fields of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecology, water quality and sedimentation, and community and social engagement.
(From L-R): Pacific Islands Rainforest Foundation chairman Mr Philip Gerlach, Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs deputy secretary Mr Saimoni Waibuta, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji country Director Mr Bakhodir Burkhanov, Acting Dean, FSTE, USP Dr Bibhya Sharma and WWF-Pacific Regional Human Resources Manager Ms Kathryn King after the signing of the agreement.
The Institute, with a proven record of successful implementation of environmental conservation, biodiversity assessments and climate resilience and mitigation projects, has the following capabilities relevant to the needs of the Fiji R2R Project:
Freshwater and marine ichthyofauna with an extensive experience and dataset of species records across many of the aquatic systems in Fiji;
Terrestrial ecology with extensive experience and dataset on species records across Fiji;
The analytical laboratory at IAS is an internationally accredited laboratory that offers a wide range of services in the analyses of foods, feeds and water; and
Social consultation and socio-economic baseline data collection with, on staff, trained iTaukei community consultation specialists and a wealth of knowledge and experience in performing social consultation in a culturally appropriate manner.
Furthermore, IAS also has the specialised technical equipment, insurance, approvals and procedures in place to ensure the Institute, being part of the University is compliant with all local laws and meets the standards required by national and international partners.
The Director of IAS, Dr Johann Poinapen during the agreement signing event said that this award marks the culmination of months of consultations and negotiations with UNDP and the Government of Fiji on defining and refining the scope of work and allocation of resources.
Dr Poinapen further stated that he is pleased that IAS is involved in the implementation of the Fiji Ridge to Reef Project as this will allow IAS to capitalise on its unique and recognised strengths in utilising the body of knowledge within IASfor improving the lives and well-being of people in Fiji.
For information regarding the Fiji R2R Project please contact Dr Isoa Korovulavula, Manager Environment, IAS through email firstname.lastname@example.org telephone (679) 3232976.
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