The Pacific Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) are characterised by a rich, unique and very fragile biodiversity. In fact, their lands are subject to various forms of degradation linked to the development of urbanisation and the non-sustainable human activities. Moreover, they are largely exposed to higher environmental risks, due to the extreme vulnerability of their insular ecosystems.
Intensive interventions will lead to negative consequences for the physical world and the ecosystems, with the consequent degradation of terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and underground biotopes. This in turn will have an economic and social impact, particularly for those islands that are dependent on tourism and fisheries sectors.
These looming challenges have increased the need to strengthen both regional and EU-Pacific OCTs cooperation in the field of environment and sustainable development.
One of the instruments, jointly promoted by the Pacific OCTs and the EU to achieve this objective, is the INTEGRE Programme (Initiative des Territoires du Pacifique Sud pour la Gestion Régionale de l’Environnement). This project is funded by the 10th EDF, for a total of 12 million Euros and for an initial 4 years period. Its main objective is to promote the integrated management of the marine and terrestrial environments, as well as to valorise, in a sustainable way, the natural resources of Pacific Overseas Territories and Countries.
The INTEGRE Programme comprises two elements. The first is the setting up of a regional network of areas for the integrated management of coastlines and the development of synergies, with twin projects and other regional and transnational networks. The second component gathers activities for the implementation of integrated management in the pilot sites.
Interventions are planned in nine proposed pilot sites: three in French Polynesia, three in New Caledonia, two in Wallis and Futuna and one in Pitcairn. These sites are representative of high and low islands in the Pacific region and share some common characteristics such as environmental issues (i.e. fishery fauna and flora preservation), their impact on local populations, and a need for integrated environmental solutions.
Through the INTEGRE programme OCTs will be included in a regional dynamics for preservation, management and valorisation of insular ecosystems. Moreover, it will give to OCTs the opportunity to cooperate sustainably with ACP countries on common problems. The INTEGRE Programme benefits from scientific expertise and technical support of local organisations (mainly the SPC, General Secretariat of Pacific Community) and implementing similar projects, notably in the ACP countries (i.e. the RESCCUE Programme, and the IWM Programme etc.).
The responsibility of the INTEGRE Programme will be entrusted to French Polynesia, the EDF Regional Authorising Officer, in cooperation with the OCTs’ Territorial Authorising Officers. The project supervision will be ensured by the General Secretariat of Pacific Community (SPC). The latter has recruited four experts, who will be based in their respective territories, for the management of the programme.
The first Steering Committee of the project was held on 18th of September 2013, when the nine pilot sites were approved.