Effectiveness & Impact of Intitiatives in Fiji
Fiji Biodiversity Review
In 2007, the Austral Foundation undertook a review of biodiversity in Fiji, assessing the impact of 20 years of investment totalling over $20 million. Most of this investment had come through international environment NGOs. The results of the review were discouraging. Virtually all primary sectors (forestry, fisheries, agriculture) and related ecosystems reported extensive degradation despite all efforts and investments.
The biodiversity crisis in Fiji has arisen despite the presence of four government agencies actively involved in conservation, 23 non-government agencies and at least a half-dozen community-based groups working on conservation outcomes, 148 professionals employed full time on the issues, the oversight of several Pacific regional secretariats, the contracting of numerous experts, the writing of uncounted reports and the modelling of numerous trials.
The Austral Foundation’s analysis emerged with a central conclusion. If improved results were to be achieved in future, it was essential that systematic capacity development work begins with the organization that holds the key to coordinated effort – viz. the Department of Environment. Unless there was clear leadership on the policy framework and an agreed set of target priorities, and unless development efforts were coordinated to complement and support each other, investment would continue to be wasted.
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Strengthening Fiji’s Department of Environment
Fiji’s Department of Environment (DoE) has been going through a process of renewal and strengthening over the last few years. The review of biodiversity in Fiji helped to underscore the central role of DoE in the management of the environment and biodiversity. NGOs operating in Fiji have become more respectful of this role, recognizing the need for a central planning framework and coordinating mechanism to ensure investments and activities in the sector are complementary and synergistic.
Austral has supported DoE in this process of institutional strengthening. Assistance has ranged from support for it strategic planning and internal capacity development to the re-vitalization for the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Fiji in association with key NGO partners.