| || || Navoti, Sainivalati S.|
| || || Fiji : implementing multilateral environmental agreements (challenges & opportunities)|
Author:Navoti, Sainivalati S.
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Call No.: pac In Process
Copyright:Over 80% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission
Abstract: Implementing any kind of agreement to a mutually satisfactory level is in itself an arduous task. Faithfully implementing obligations from a multitude of agreements is almost an impossible undertaking. This Paper attempts to examine how the Republic of Fiji has been fairing in the implementation of her obligations under the various Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) to which she is a party. In doing so, the paper provides background information of the relevant environmental treaties, accounts the various obligations contained in each of them and then analyses Fiji’s implementation efforts. In such analysis, the paper highlights some of the programmes, policies and legislative initiatives that the Fiji Government has put in place over the years as measures towards implementation of Fiji’s treaty obligations. This Paper also highlights some of the major challenges confronting Fiji and suggests certain reform initiatives which in the Author’s assessment could provide opportunities, not only for better implementation, but also secure, a sustainable long term development and implementation agenda, suitable for a Small Island Developing State, like Fiji. Since the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, the world has seen the proliferation of environmental agreements both at a global and regional level. Many factors have been attributed to this influx, there are two rationale being advance in this paper as reasons for the proliferation; the first being historical development, or evolution of issues, i.e. the shift of emphasis from a purely environment conservation perspective to a combined environmental conservation and sustainable development emphasis. The second is the complexity of the issues themselves. Environmental issues are multi faceted and the current international legislative environment has been found not conducive to the development of coordinated, or synergistic, approaches to collective environmental – and sustainable development - problem solving. Given such a plethora of MEAs, Fiji, a Small Island Developing State, in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, has ratified a total of twenty five (25) MEAs. Of these, fifteen (15) Agreements are of Global nature, ten (10) are Regional Instruments. Analysis of the obligations in each of these MEAs reveals that Fiji is duty bound to observe and implement a little over seven hundred (700) specific mandatory obligations; immense burden for such a small nation. Despite the revelation of the enormity of the duties to be fulfilled, this Paper reveals genuine attempts, deliberate efforts and purposeful endeavors, by a Small Island State, eager to play her part in the international arena. No such effort shall be deemed unimportant when one assesses the contribution it makes in the attainment of the overall goal of world conservation. Overall, Fiji’s implementation of its MEAs obligations paints a mixed picture, when ranked, would range from a “not so good” to a “good enough” effort. The picture certainly does not reflect a Rembrandt or Leonardo Da Vinci type performance. Nevertheless, when one examines the contributory factors for such a performance, one will appreciate, that like other developing countries, Fiji suffers from serious lack of capacity, which has over the years been confounded by uncoordinated institutional arrangements and inhibited by legislative boundaries in need of serious updating. Fiji’s picture does indeed suggests that a lot more could be done to strengthen and improve Fiji’s implementation efforts. The Government of Fiji has the onerous responsibility to ensure that Fiji’s Flag flies high within the community of nations and one way to ensure this, is through self-assessment. It is all very well to join the bandwagon of treaty ratification; it is the implementation of treaty obligations that defines the ride. Systemic, institutional, and attitudinal reforms will assist Fiji to better implement her treaty obligations. Innovative lateral thinking, identification, training and retention of qualified personnel and a deliberate attempt at improving institutional capacity through empowerment of all stakeholders will also contribute positively to this endeavor. Coordination and channeling of resources to identified appropriate objectives also would assist. To address the challenges identified, this Paper offers some suggestions at institutional reforms. These include the revisiting of the role and authority of the Fiji Environmental Council. Suggestions are offered to elevate the Council to be the highest environmental authority in Fiji to be serviced by a duly constituted Ministry of Environment, supported by an autonomous Environment Protection Agency and supervised by an independent Environmental Court. This Paper also suggests the establishment of a National Green Fund to replace the ad hoc Trust Fund arrangements under the various environmental legislative regimes currently in force in Fiji today. Fiji still has a fair way to go, she is not isolated or alone, there are others (countries) that suffer from the same predicaments. This paper reveals that in some treaties, Fiji has done tremendously well, so well in fact, to receive International Awards for recognition of good work. There are no doubts, that such effort can be replicated to other treaties. As a sovereign and an independent State, wishing to hold her place among the community of nations, and if the maxim “Pacta Sunt Servanda” (Agreements must be kept) is to have any relevance whatsoever, the onus is simply on Fiji to ensure replication of such good efforts, to other MEAs.