Vanuatu daily news digest | 19 June 2014

The National Sustainable Development Plan public forum continued this morning especially concerned with Environmental Well-being in Vanuatu. The range of topics this enabled was almost inexhaustible, given as Fr Michael Tavoa said in his first address on behalf of the churches: "the environment is our partner in life."

NGOs were to the fore in pointing out how they assist both communities and the government, but called for a lot more information gathering. The NGO core group consulted for the Forum saw a need for much more information-based decision making and a lot more government monitoring of what has been and is already being done. The Disabled group spoke of their particular difficulties in both seasons of drought and with sea level rise.

The chiefly consultation group detailed the large number of sites they’d like to have listed for World Heritage following on from the great success of the Roy Mata Domain. There is Lake Fanteng, Ambrym, and the Duviara conservation area on Ambe. Vatthe, Big Bay, Santo comprises 2,276 hectares of the island which until recently were likely to be made available to foreigners by an earlier government as a Free Trade Zone. Women were mostly concerned with provision of water to households around the islands, along with hygienic toilet facilities. They want big fishing boats stopped from pillaging the natural resource of the salt water and they want agricultural monitors returned as field officers. Young people quite rightly see themselves as the "foot soldiers for the environment."

The National Sustainable Development Plan Forum will close tomorrow.