The Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS), USP commenced with the Strategic Environment & Social Assessment (SESA) Fiji Project after the signing of a contract with the Fiji Government- Ministry of Forests in September 2016. Funded by the World Bank, SESA is a critical phase of the Fiji National REDD+ Programme facilitated by the Fiji REDD+ Secretariat and supported by National REDD+ Steering Committee. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is the proposed global mechanism to mitigate climate change, while mobilising financial resources for socio-economic development in forest countries. The planning for REDD+ in Fiji has been based on local knowledge, international requirements, experiences and ideas for REDD+ readiness over the past 9 years.
SESA is an internationally known policy tool/instrument to identify environment and social risks and impacts pertaining to specific sectors and planning strategies. It is multi-dimensional in nature, as it analyses social, environmental and economic issues, prioritises and validates the key issues with extensive consultations with stakeholders, and recommends policy options. The SESA is designed to ensure that strategic environmental and social assessment principles can be applied to integrate environmental and social considerations into the Fiji REDD+ readiness process in a manner consistent with Fiji’s environmental laws and regulations and the World Bank’s environmental and social safeguard policies. In accordance with Forest Carbon Partnership Facility guidelines, special consideration will be given to livelihoods, rights, cultural heritage, gender, vulnerable groups, governance, capacity building and biodiversity.
The IAS team comprises a national and international pool of experts in the various sectors such as forestry, natural resource management, social development and gender, land tenure, the geospatial application and Information Technology required to efficiently undertake the work and deliverables required for SESA.
As part of the SESA Inception phase, a Structured Learning and Capacity Building workshop was conducted on September 22 and 23, 2016 at the Southern Cross Hotel by the IAS SESA Team Leader, Dr Ken Green. The workshop was opened by the Conservator of Forests, Mr Eliki Senivasa. The main aim of the workshop was to expand the knowledge on the use of SESA as it applies to environmental & social (E&S) sustainable development planning in Fiji. The objectives of the workshop were to:
- build on SESA and E&S due diligence as it has been applied across various country REDD+ readiness and implementation programs to date
- better define how SESA can add value to the E&S due process in Fiji taking into account national regulations, policies and sustainable development approaches
- strengthen capacity building by improving the capabilities of the SESA and counterpart Teams, and various other clients, contractors, consultants and other interested stakeholders to utilise SESA approaches in order to increase environmental and social mainstreaming
A total of 33 participants attended the two-day programme with representatives from the IAS-USP SESA team, REDD+ Secretariat, REDD+ Steering Committee, Ministry of Forests, Ministry of Economy and Planning, Fiji Environmental Law Association, Scientific Forestry Services Limited, Fiji National University, NatureFiji MareqetiViti and Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
Mr Marika Tuiwawa, the Curator of the South Pacific Regional Herbarium stated that IAS is pleased to be considered for such work as it is a reflection of IAS’s staff members accumulated years of experience of providing expertise knowledge towards forestry sector projects and regional and national environment and natural resource management programmes.
Echoing the above sentiments, Director of IAS, Dr Johann Poinapen shared that the implementation of the SESA project is strengthening IAS’s capability in forest and natural resources management and places IAS as a strong partner in delivering projects under the World Bank funded REDD+ programme in the Pacific region.