NUKU’ALOFA-February 20: 2.42pm (MEIDECC): Tonga is hosting three separate regional meetings on hazardous waste management here in Nuku’alofa this week.

The meetings are the 6th Meeting of the Waigani Convention Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC-6), the 5th Meeting of the Steering Committee of the Pacific Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Joint Implementation of the Waigani and Basel Conventions (SCPRC-5), and 4th GEF-PAS uPOPs Project Steering Committee Meeting, held at the Tanoa International Dateline Hotel from 20-23 February 2017.

Tonga’s Mafile’o Masi at the conference opening this morning

The Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC), Ms Lupe Matoto officially opened the meetings earlier this morning.

In welcoming the participants from the region and the representatives of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Ms Matoto said the significance of these meetings are well documented around the region in the region’s effort to continue and address the vital issue of environmentally sound management of hazardous waste within the Pacific.  She also added that these notably have received technical and financial supports from international and regional cooperation. 

“Tonga is working collaboratively with other stakeholders in addressing these issues. The Litter Control Regulation was just recently passed and we are on our way to acceding to the Minamata Convention later on this year,” Ms. Matoto said.  “Inspite of this, we still have a long way to go in terms of performing efficiently with the very limited resources we have.”

The new Chairman is Papua New Guinea’s Mr Veary Kula (right) taking up his seat after this morning’s elections

Mr Clark Peteru, the Officer In-Charge of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) said that these meetings enable member countries of the Waigani and Basel Conventions to discuss how each country wants to see the Conventions implemented and work collectively to coordinate the implementation of the Conventions both at the Regional and National levels.

The meetings will take place in the next 3 (three) days and is facilitated by SPREP and attended by member states from Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and observers from Nauru, Palau and the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI).

Meanwhile, a new chairman was elected at the meeting this morning.

Tonga’s Ms Mafile’o Masi was Chairman for the last three years, after she was elected in 2014.

The new Chairman is Papua New Guinea’s Mr Veary Kula, who will serve the position for two years.

The Deputy Chairman is Mr Khokan Bagchi from Australia.

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