Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP Convention) (2024)

Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme - The SPREP Convention

A. Overview

For thousands of years, the people of the Pacific region have relied on Oceania’s natural resources for their survival. The marine environment sustains them, and they depend on it for food, transport, traditional practices, and economic opportunity. Lands and forests of the Pacific islands have nurtured their inhabitants by providing food, fuel, and shelter. Indigenous cultures and their traditions over many generations have developed a rich heritage of stewardship over natural capital, of traditional management practices, and of knowledge. Due to the limited land areas there has also been a long history of ecosystem modification and species extinction across the Pacific islands; this trend has accelerated with modern development pressures which are increasingly impacting on islandecosystems.

The vital resources and ecosystems upon which Pacific islands depend for their sustenance and livelihoods are under increasing pressure. Foremost among the threats is climate change, a deeply troubling issue for the environmental, economic, and social viability of Pacific island countries and territories. Climate change is already having very real impacts on coastal and forest ecosystems, our oceans, fresh water supplies, biodiversity, and indeed all aspects of life – particularly on communities in small, low-lying countries where sea level rise and changing weather patterns are creating social and economic disruption. Increasing harvesting pressures on natural resources, destruction and modification of habitats and ecosystems in the quest for development, and severe reductions in species populations continue to threaten the integrity and health of the vulnerable natural systems on which all island life depends.Waste and pollution generated from an increasingly consumer-based way of life put ecosystems and human wellbeing at risk.

Pacific habitats and species face threats from proposed deep-sea mining , coastal development, nutrient loading, sedimentation, disease, invasive species, predator outbreaks, overfishing, destructive fishing, marine noise and light pollution, ocean acidification, and climate change with the impacts of higher temperatures, sea level rise, and increased risk of storm damage.

Pacific island countries and territories are highly vulnerable to climate change, putting at risk the development gains the region has made in recent years. There is a need for action on climate change so that responses are better understood, planned for, funded, and coordinated at local, national, regional, and international levels. In 2016, the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific was endorsed by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders. The Framework recognises that climate change and disaster risk reduction are intimately linked, and that an integrated approach to addressing them is more effective.

As the regional organisation charged with the protection and sustainable development of the region’s environment,SPREPhas been at the forefront of efforts to manage these environmental issues. SPREP has provided national-level technical advice, programme support, human and institutional capacity building and coordinated regional responses to global issues and international agreements.

B. Introduction

On June 16 1993, Pacific Leaders came together to formally establish thePacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), charged with supporting the work of Members to address the region’s environmental challenges. SPREP is comprised of26 Membersscattered over thousands of kilometres of ocean sharing common elements of culture, history, and environment. The membership consists of 14 Pacific island countries, 7 territories and 5 metropolitan states with a direct interest in the region. The combined EEZs of the Pacific island countries and territories covers 30 million km2but the land area of this ocean realm only covers two percent of this huge area.

SPREP Member countries and territories are: American Samoa, Australia*, Cook Islands*, Federated States of Micronesia*, Fiji*, France*, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands*, Nauru*, New Caledonia, New Zealand*, Niue, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea*, Samoa*, Solomon Islands*, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States of America*, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.

*Parties to theNoumea Convention.

C. History of the Convention

SPREP began life in the late 1970s as an environmental programme within the South Pacific Commission (now ThePacific Community - SPC) arising from a jointinitiativeof SPC, South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation (now Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat), UN ESCAP and UNEP - eventually functioning as a component of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme. The Programme received further impetus as a result of the1982 Conference on the Human Environment in the South Pacific. Following a period of expansion and long deliberations, SPREP left SPC in Noumea in 1992 and relocated to Samoa. In 1993, Pacific Leaders came together to formally establish SPREP as an autonomous organisation under the Agreement Establishing the South Pacific Environment Programme to function as the region’s primary intergovernmental environment organisation, charged with supporting the work of Members to address the region’s environmental management challenges. In 2004 the word "South" in the organisation’s name was replaced with "Secretariat of the".

D. Organizational structure

  1. Secretariat:SPREP is headed by the Director Generaland its Headquarters is hosted by the Government of Samoa. Further host country agreements exist with Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
  2. SPREP Meeting-The Biennial SPREP Meeting is the plenary decision-making body established by the SPREP Agreement. SPREP meetings are attended by Members and Observers, The Meeting provides a forum for Members to consult on matters of common concern with regard to the protection and improvement of the environment of the region as well as having the authority to adopt and implement decisions necessary for the functioning of SPREP.
  3. Executive Board-The Executive Board was established in 2015 as a scaled down SPREP Meeting to meet in alternate years to the SPREP Meeting. The Executive Board is appointed by the SPREP Meeting and is subordinate to it, with no power to make decisions that require input of all SPREP Members. The Executive Board is guided by principles of environmental leadership, equity, transparency, accountability, flexibility, economy and sustainability in line with the practices and procedures of the Pacific region.

E. SPREP Agreements.

SPREP implements the following conventions and protocols:

a)Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region (Noumea Convention)1986

b)Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region (Waigani Convention)1995

F. Areas of work

SPREP priorities:

  • Environmental Governance
  • Waste Management and Pollution Control
  • Island and Ocean Ecosystems
  • Climate Change Resilience
  • Organisational Goals

i) TheSPREP Strategic Plan 2017–2026prioritises four regional goals:

    1. Climate Change Resilience- For Pacific island Members, the economic, social, and environmental costs of climate change and disasters are high and forecast to increase. As host of the Pacific Climate Change Centre, SPREP will deliver on its mandate as coordinator of Pacific climate change action.
    2. Ecosystem and Biodiversity Protection- SPREP provides regional leadership and technical guidance and serves as a conduit for Member states in optimising the implementation of global MEAs and regional environmental frameworks. It is also the secretariat for the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation and with other organisations and countries implements the Regional Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas.
    3. Waste Management and Pollution Control- SPREP has the lead responsibility for regional coordination and delivery of waste management and pollution control action and uses the strategic management framework, Cleaner Pacific 2025, in guiding regional cooperation and collaboration.
    4. Environmental Governance- SPREP plays a lead role in assisting countries to develop capacity in environmental governance, policy development, planning, environmental impact assessment, monitoring, and reporting for sustainable environmental outcomes and to keep pace with socio-economic development.

ii) Identifies organisational goals to frame how the Secretariat will strengthen its policies, processes, and capacity to effectively deliver on its mandate.

G. Partners

SPREP works with a wide range of stakeholders and partners across the region. The mandate for SPREP’s strategic plan is determined by Member countries who are key partners in implementing programmes. In addition, SPREP works with other Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) Agencies to deliver development programmes focused by Pacific Forum Leaders’ priorities in the region. SPREP also works closely with a range of Non-Government Organisations and private sector partners. In the area of climate change, SPREP coordinates a broad team of partners through the One CROP+ Team, which includes all CROP agencies active on climate change, as well as other regional and international agencies. SPREP has also partnered with Japan and Samoa to construct the Pacific Climate Change Centre.

H. Ongoing Projects

  1. UNDP RESPAC and I-CLEWS Funding Support to PMC PIETR and PHS Panel
  2. Ratification and Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in the countries of the Pacific Region (GEF Project ID: 5634)
  3. African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) Phase III
  4. Strengthening Coastal Biodiversity Conservation and Management through Protection and Rehabilitation Incentives for Coastal Carbon Sinks in Pacific Island Countries
  5. European Development Fund 11 - Pacific European Union Marine Programme - By-catch and Integrated Ecosystem Management (BIEM)
  6. Climate Information Services for Resilient Development Planning in Vanuatu (FP035)
  7. Climate and Ocean Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2
  8. Pacific SIDS Project- Community-based Early Warning System and DRR
  10. Global Climate Change Alliance Plus - Scaling-up Pacific Adaptation
  11. GEF ISLANDS Pacific Child Project
  12. Strengthening national and regional capacities to reduce the impact of Invasive Alien Species on globally significant biodiversity in the Pacific
  13. Pacific I2I Regional Project: Ocean Health for Ocean Wealth - The Voyage tor a Blue Economy for the Blue Pacific Continent
  14. Readiness support and national adaptation planning projects in Pacific SIDS (FSM, Niue Nauru, RMI, Tuvalu)

J. Key achievements

  1. In 2023, SPREP Celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary.
  2. SPREP is the host of thePacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC). The PCCC was completed and officially opened in 2019.
  3. Development and implementation ofRegional Marine Species Action Plans.
  4. Development and implementation ofPacific Regional Action Plan: Marine Litter 2018-2025.
  5. Status and Trends of Coral Reefsfor the Pacific report launched by UN Environment and SPREP in 2018.
  6. Launch of the Pacific Ecosystem-Based Adaptation To Climate Change projectthat provides support to participating governments and communities in promoting EbA as a climate change adaptation strategy, building capacity for robust EbA planning processes, implementing EbA demonstration activities, communications and policy integration. Its a five-year initiative implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the governments of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).
  7. US$17 millionhas been secured to address land- and vessel-based pollution over the next five years.
  8. Eight Pacific island countries and territories are developing or have developedmarine spatial planning programmesfor their Exclusive Economic Zones.
  9. In 2016, the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (Oceanscape) was endorsed by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders. The Framework recognises that climate change and disaster risk reduction are intimately linked, and that an integrated approach to addressing them is more effective.
  10. A Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape, endorsed by all Pacific Island Leaders in 2010, promotesintegrated ocean managementat national and regional levels launched.
  11. Promotion and implementation ofecosystem-based adaptation to climate changeapproaches in the region.

K.Interesting facts about the Pacific region

  1. Marine resources play a significant role in the economic development and culture of Pacific island states. Pacific island states have the largest combined EEZs in the world.
  2. Nearlythree-quarters of the world’s tuna landingscome from Pacific waters. The tuna industry in the Pacific region is US$40 billion per year and supports a range of livelihoods. However, most of the income from this fishery is derived by distant water fishing agencies.
  3. The Pacific Oceanhasmore marine speciesthan any other ocean basin.
  4. The South Pacific basin is thelargest of the basinsthat hold the world's ocean.
  5. 70%of the global fish catch is from the Pacific.
  6. The Pacific region is home to approximately25%of the worlds coral reefs and has the most coral reef species in the world.
  7. The Pacific leads the world in the establishment oflarge Marine Protected Areas and sanctuariesfor sharks and whales, covering millions of square kilometres of SPREP Member EEZs.
  8. The Pacific Ocean is home to overhalf of the world’s whale and dolphin species. Whale-watching is a multi-million-dollar Pacific industry.
  9. About70%of the protein in the diet of Pacific islanders is from near-shore pelagic, reef, and lagoon fisheries.

Contact us

Tel: +685 21929



  1. SPREP Virtual Library:
  2. Pacific Islands Protected Areas Portal:
  3. Pacific Climate Change Portal:
  4. Pacific Environment Data Portal:
  5. Pacific Meteorological Desk:
  6. Pacific Network Environmental Assessment:
  7. Battlers Resource Base:
  8. Tomai Pacifique:
Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP Convention) (2024)
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