Fifty delegates from across the Pacific region travelled by air to New Caledonia this week to participate in the Pacific Community’s annual Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA) meeting for its members and development partners.
However, such travel is a source of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, with the average carbon emissions per participant estimated at 17 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents.
As part of the SPC’s commitment to environmental sustainability, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with the international organisation’s day-to-day operations and major events, a voluntary carbon offset scheme was introduced for the first time on the occasion of this CRGA.
Participants at the meeting, including representatives of governments, the European Union, GIZ, and several UN agencies, contributed on a voluntary basis a total of 55,000 CFP to offset the carbon emissions of their trip, in effect offsetting the emissions for travel associated with the meeting.
These funds were today presented to Mocamana, a local association dedicated to reforestation and environmental restoration in New Caledonia at SPC headquarters by the Director-General of the Pacific Community, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, the Chairperson of the meeting, Francois Bockel representing New Caledonia, and the Vice-Chairperson representing New Zealand, Jonathan Rowe.
The President of the Association Mocamana, Christine Pollabauer, said: "We are pleased that a carbon offsett program based on voluntary contributions has sensitized participants of a regional conference to important environmental issues. We will be planting around 10,500 trees to restore a native dry forest area, and these will come from local nurseries with whom we have a partnership for several years.
"This is a real sustainable development project that benefits not only the dry forest, the most threatened vegetation in New Caledonia, but also the local communities," Ms Pollabauer added.
"It's important to lead by example in order for things to change, particularly in the field of environment. SPC is pleased to have achieved carbon offset this year's CRGA," Dr Tukuitonga said.
"It's a demonstration of motivation of member countries as well as the Secretariat," Dr Tukuitonga said.
CRGA 46 website