French Embassy in Suva supported the organization of the CRISP (Coral Reef Initiative for the South Pacific) Round Table, held 12th May in Suva.
CRISP programme had been initiated by France in 2004, in order to improve the knowledge on coral reefs and its diffusion, protect the reefs and enhance its economical potential. CRISP, under the double institutional protection from Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), allowed strengthening scientific cooperation between French territories and States in the South Pacific.
The Ambassador H.E. Gilles Montagnier delivered the opening speech, before welcoming all the participants of the Round Table to a cocktail at his residence in the evening.
Ambassador’s opening speech :
The South Pacific Community Representative, The University of the South Pacific Representative, Representatives of the Government of the Republic of Fiji Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Dear Colleagues who have been working in this CRISP Programme, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In 2003, it was France that prepared the first ground for what became the CRISP programme, “Coral Reef Initiative for the South Pacific”, after the declaration made by the President of the French Republic, Mr Jacques Chirac, during the French-Oceania Summit held that same year. Mr Chirac was the first person to raise our country’s strong will to contribute to an unavoidable regional integration, in promoting the idea to gather all the Oceania participants around the objective to work in this sustainable development of the Pacific Coral Reefs.
The French Development Agency was in charged of the institutional and technical setting of this project during 2004, before Mr Lepeltier, who was the Minister of Ecology back then, announced its launching during the meeting of the SPREP - South Pacific Regional Environment Programme - member countries Ministers for Environment, held in Papeete in September 2004. The substantials co-financing of NGOs such as WWF, Conservation International or the UN Foundation, have come in to make up the financing basis provided by France through the French Development Agency.
The “Coral Reef Initiative for the South Pacific”, was designed as a driving belt between English-speaking island countries and the French Pacific Territories, with a double institutional protection from SPREP and SPC who have, as the years go by, fully and efficiently adapted to this programme. On the other hand the University of the South Pacific has significantly contributed to the CRISP through a partnership with CRIOBE of Mooréa, French Polynesia and IRD of Nouméa, New Caledonia.
I will not go into the detail of all the effects led here in Fiji, even less than the effects led out of Fiji in mobilizing the valuation of this Oceania country: I will simply remember, as an example, the involvement of USP in these scientific works regarding coral reefs that have allowed Oceania students to have the opportunity to work in New Caledonia, in French Polynesia, and also in France for some, and this because of the financing and partnership developed by CRISP. These exchanges have been particularly important in the Pisces biology and the bio-prospecting fields, and continue as I speak.
So I will emphasise the atonement of my country, in this stage of synthesis of the results of this programme, owing the value of these exchanges that have developed from this programme between all the Oceania participants, owing this gain of undeniable openness between the French-speaking world and the English-speaking world of small Pacific Islands Countries, not forgetting the reinforcement of valuable partnership with our Australian or New Zealander friends, around this coral reefs theme.
Finally, France as you may know, is a major donor of the European Development Fund, with a participation of more than 20% and, therefore, may I emphasise our satisfaction with the actual process that leaves a glimpse of just an important part of the results of the CRISP programme, will be carried on the 10th Regional EDF. Regarding the European overseas territories (French and English), the INTEGRE project is an example in regards to regional cooperation and is no longer any doubt that CRISP has contributed to the quality of these supranational dynamics. Regarding the ACP countries, may I emphasise the great interest that France carries, in the outcome of a regional project, currently in progress, on the 10th EDF assigned for these countries, and would allow, for the same reason as the INTEGRE project, to capitalize on some knowledge of CRISP. Such process should come with a new contribution from France, throughout the French Fund for the World Environment (FFEM), to support these projects of integrated costal management, in particular in the context of climate change. According to the provisional agenda, this point will be discussed during this afternoon’s round table, let’s hope, for a successful conclusion of worthy projection.
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends, may I wish you in the name of France a productive day full of education and discussions for the future of this valuable asset that are the Pacific Coral Reefs.