EXPERT OPINION: Agnetha Vave-Karamui, CTI-CFF National Coordinator
What is your role in the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF)? What are the key objectives you aim to achieve in your role?I serve as the CTI-CFF National Coordinator and my role involves coordinating regional and national activities, acting as the focal contact for CTI-CFF activities, working with the lead Ministries, implementing partners and the interim CTI-CFF Regional Secretariat to plan, facilitate and undertake activities related to the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action and the National Plan of Action. I also provide technical backstopping for regional and national projects and activities.
I hope to contribute to the Solomon Islands government’s role in ocean governance and safeguarding the world’s most diverse marine area through implementing its visions stated in the Solomon Islands CTI-CFF National Plan of Action. This also involves promoting communities’ participation and working with local governments in these national efforts.
I also hope to be able to use regional experiences and make them practical for use by Solomon Islands’ communities, practitioners, and partners.
What made you passionate about the marine environment and helping protect Solomon Island’s rich marine biodiversity? How did you end up in your current role?Besides studying Environmental Science in the university, I grew up with the ocean and its richness and beauty around me. On the other hand, pressures by human activities were not far off – I am from Marovo Lagoon where our traditions are shaped by the ocean and our livelihoods linked with its resources. I was inspired by Solomon Islands’ relationship with the ocean and how this relationship can be changed with the threats faced by the ocean. I was inspired by Solomon Islands’ richness not only at the national level but also at the regional level, as well as the strength of communities to manage their resources amidst growing issues of increasing population, increasing food prices, etc. I was taught at an early age that the ocean is part of me!
I recognize that there is a growing momentum in protecting the oceans and supporting communities to sustainably manage their resources just like what our ancestors have done, but backed with recent science and practice for emerging threats like climate change.
I ended up in my current role when I was recruited as a conservation officer in 2008 for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology.
How important is Solomon Islands in the Coral Triangle region and why should more people, organizations, and institutions support conservation work in these islands?The Solomon Islands’ socio-economic and environmental challenges need regional partnerships, attention, and support. It is important for Solomon Islands to have practical solutions for resource management and the role of communities and applying best practices in management are keys to achieving sustainable development in the region. Our lessons can be shared with the region in particular, the Pacific.
We are also at the brink of major challenges – mining pressures, rising sea levels, lifestyle changes, etc. These challenges need major support from the region and the world as institutional, economic, and technical capacities in the country are limited to deal with these challenges.
The Coral Triangle is a global treasure that requires global and regional attention for its protection.
Solomon Islands celebrated the Coral Triangle Day on June 9 with the rest of the region. What were the Coral Triangle Day activities that took place in Solomon Islands?For Coral Triangle Day, we had public speeches from government officials at the national and provincial levels, which renewed their commitments for the management of the Coral Triangle region. They called for stronger action and the promotion of CTI-CFF objectives.
We also had a public awareness and educational walk-through exhibition. This exhibition showcased CTI-CFF partners’ best practices, lessons learnt, community stories and experiences, as well as success stories and challenges in working with communities, provinces, and government. We also had quizzes for school children on Coral Triangle and other marine-related issues.
Then we capped the day with an awards dinner, to recognize CTI-CFF pioneers and practitioners. We gave out six awards to private citizens for their leadership in environmental conservation, five awards to provincial governments for partnering with the national government, and four awards to NGO partners for their commitment and support in promoting community-based resource management and providing technical assistance for improved legislations and policies for sustainable marine and coastal management in Solomon Islands.
What were the main highlights of the Coral Triangle Day event in Solomon Islands? Any key challenges you faced in organizing such an event; how did you overcome them?The highlights of Coral Triangle Day in Solomon Islands were the involvement of children in educational quizzes, the engagement of the general public, the collection of success stories from CTI-CFF partners, and the recognition given to stakeholders.
Thanks to the great leadership and guidance by Solomon Islands CTI-CFF National Coordinating Committee (NCC) and partners, including team leader Mrs. Lysa-Wini Simeon, the challenges were minor. Teamwork made it a successful outcome. We could not have achieved our successes without teamwork and outstanding leadership. I commend the partners and Mrs. Lysa. Also the Solomon Islands government, which has been committed to the CTI-CFF objectives.
How important are regional events such as the Coral Triangle Day in spreading more awareness about the importance of the marine environment?The Coral Triangle Day is very important and we should continue this regional momentum. We need to stay proactive and continue to come up with innovations to safeguard the Coral Triangle.
The Coral Triangle Day signifies regional linkages between the six countries and puts a face to our regional challenges. It helps tell our stories to the world. It unites the region under one Coral Triangle banner and brings our common successes and lessons to the region, giving solutions to coastal communities.
What is your advice to young people out there who want to get into marine conservation like you?Young people are the leaders of today and tomorrow, they have an important role to play in our future. Positive changes can be stimulated by them, and we must live a better history for them.
We need to encourage young men and women to participate as stewards to the world’s most incredible center of marine biodiversity—the Coral Triangle. We owe this to our children and our children’s children.
The ocean is an awesome realm to work in and we need more coastal communities to take responsibly in managing their valuable resources – this is our challenge! To ensure that communities are the beneficiaries of the Coral Triangle’s abundant resources.