Jope Davetanivalu is the Director of the Environmental Monitoring Governance Programme at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP). He has been involved with the sustainable development of tourism since he joined the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Environment of the Fiji Government earlier on in his career.
Based in Samoa, Mr Davetanivalu believes that health and environment play a significant role in tourism in Fiji and the enforcement of Public Health and Environmental laws and policies to safeguard the impact of tourism development on people’s health and environment.
“It was joining the Environmental Monitoring and Governance (EMG) Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in 2013 when my involvement in sustainable tourism expanded into the Pacific Region,” he said.
“The vision of SPREP for a resilient Pacific environment sustaining our livelihoods and natural heritage in harmony with our cultures, aligns with the focus of the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) of the Pacific Region, for a sustainable future for our Pacific Islands through tourism. The vision ensures that tourism benefits our people, safeguard our cultural heritage, and ensure the environment that we depend on is protected for generations to come. “
Mr Davetanivalu said the SPREP EMG Programme plays a lead role in assisting SPREP member countries in developing their capacity in environmental governance; policy development; planning, monitoring, and reporting for sustainable environmental outcomes. He also emphasized the need for keeping pace with socio-economic development and working closely in promoting and strengthening sustainable tourism development in the region.
He added that this involves capacity building in the Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment using the EIA Regional Guidelines, the Strategic Environmental Assessments Guidelines, and the Coastal Tourism EIA Guidelines.
Mr. Davetanivalu also recognised the partnership between SPREP and SPTO in developing the Coastal Tourism EIA Guidelines for the Pacific Island Countries and Territories. He further noted that the Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines for Coastal Tourism Development were made possible through the support of the SPTO members, the endorsement of the SPTO Board, and the approval of the SPREP Council Members in 2017.These tools support decision-making in infrastructure development by our development partners and trainings have been delivered to SPREP member countries on the use of the guidelines.
“SPREP also partnered with SPTO in delivering training on Sustainable Tourism for the Samoa Government during the Covid-19 lockdown. The training assists Samoa Tourism Authority, Government Sectors, and partners in undertaking risk assessment; explore energy saving options, waste management; the EIA process; understanding their roles in maintaining a sustainable tourism industry; and environmental and social safeguards,” he said.
“Tourism is a good driver of economic growth; it can increase economic activity create and sustain jobs, attract investment, help to keep local businesses viable, regenerate and restructure economies where industries are in decline, and reduce poverty,” he said.
“Tourism can be one of the enablers of achieving the SDGs if it brings resources to host communities and does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs if tourism is pursued sustainably. However, tourism can be a contributor to unsustainable development if not planned and managed well.”