Fiji impressed upon the global community, the determined approach taken towards protecting the environmental rights of all Fijians. Fiji strongly recognised the fact that environmental protection was deeply connected to its very existence. Leading a panel on Environmental Protection and Justice, the Permanent Secretary for Waterways & Environment, Joshua Wycliffe insisted that Environmental sustainability, biodiversity protection, our full realisation and enjoyment of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation were all intrinsically linked.

PS Wycliffe was speaking at the Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya.

The event was jointly led by Dr. David Boyd (the UN Special Repertoire for Human Rights and Environment).

PS Wycliffe showcased the strong legislative instruments and the implementation processes Fiji employs in protecting its environment.

He explained how Section 40 of Fiji’s Constitution provides that: “Every Fijian has the right to a clean and healthy environment, which includes the right to have the natural world protected for the benefit of present and future generations through legislative and other measures”.

He laid out the various Acts and Regulations that governed the protection stance taken by Fiji. He also laid out the unified approach adopted by Fiji through its people, processes and systems. The various resources and capacity endeavor undertaken by the Government of Fiji in protecting its environment. Fiji displayed a strong statement establishing facts like over five hundred litter prevention officers being trained in Fiji, 1328 cases of litter offenders apprehended in the last year alone, the Clean Community Policy recently launched by the Minister for Waterways & Environment, and the Environment Hotline to manage complaints on environmental breaches and environmental crime.

There was a loud applause from the audience when the Business Roundtable Model developed and adopted by the Ministry of Waterways & Environment was explained. Fiji has recently adopted a Business Roundtable Model to raise environment awareness among the business community in Fiji.

Speaking later at the sidelines of the Assembly, the Permanent Secretary called on the Global Community to take action and establish partnerships to address marine litter from the fishing and shipping sectors. Fiji is very concerned over the impacts of Sea Based Marine Litter on the marine environment, food security, animal welfare and human health, safety and livelihoods. He maintained that marine pollution was a trans boundary issue that required all relevant agencies globally to abandon working in silos and come together supporting communities, and industries to tackle the key sea-based sources of marine litter, including abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG). The Ministry of Waterways & Environment is commuting to innovation that would address this issue, he added.

The Assembly has focussed its discussions on tackling the environmental challenges related to poverty and natural resources management, including sustainable food systems, food security and halting biodiversity loss; introduction life cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy, chemicals and waste management; ensuring sustainable business development at a time of rapid technological change.