The Institute of Applied Sciences in 2011-2 spearheaded a process to develop a regional profile for the Eastern Melanesian Islands and propose an investment strategy for civil society work in biodiversity conservation. The Eastern Melanesian Islands comprise Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and the Papua New Guinea Islands of Manus, New Britain, New Ireland and Bouganville.
These islands are a “hotspot” of high biodiversity and endemism (things unique to the area). The work was carried out on behalf of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, a funding consortium of the World Bank, L’Agence Francaise de Development, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Gathering the information was performed by local consultants and through regional, national and rural workshops. Mr Marika Tuiwawa, Curator of the South Pacific Regional Herbarium, worked with the Environment Departments in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to organize these workshops. The work in PNG was coordinated by the University of Papua New Guinea. The investment strategy suggests an initial stage of capacity-building for local non-governmental agencies that allows them to take the lead in funding applications.
The strategy was presented to the CEPF Governing Council in Washington D.C. by the Director of IAS, Prof Bill Aalbersberg with an allocation of US $9 million over the next eight years. Prof Aalbersberg said the experience of working closely with the government of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands was especially rewarding in building a strong working relationship.
The process of selecting organizations to manage the fund allocation is underway and grants should begin by the end of 2013.