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About UNEP
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United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
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Newsletter and Technical Publications

<Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augumentation
in Small Island Developing States>


PART E - INSTITUTIONAL PROFILES

South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC)

Objectives

The South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) is an independent, intergovernmental, regional organisation mandated by several South Pacific nations to:

  • develop resource policy, and advise on the management and development of onshore and offshore mineral and aggregate resources;
  • meet the needs for water resources, waste management, health and sanitation through the provision of resource policy and management advice, appropriate information and training;
  • support the information requirements and enhance the skills required from management and operation of the energy sector in member countries;
  • assist decision makers and planners to develop coastal zones and extract resources while protecting them from degradation;
  • predict the effects of hazards on the health, wealth and development potential of member countries;
  • assist decision makers and planners to understand ocean processes, develop ocean areas and extract resources while protecting oceans from over-exploitation and pollution;
  • provide geoscientific and related education needs through the provision of a variety of training and education opportunities at all levels of geoscience and resource management;
  • meet the demands for electronic information by member country governments and regional organisations to manage resources and risk;
  • support National authorities in disaster management activities through advice, information and training opportunities; and meet the demands for geoscientific data by member country governments and regional organisations to manage resources and risk.

Member Countries

Member countries are currently Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. New Caledonia and Tahiti Niu are Associate members.

Background

The Commission comprises the Governing Council (the member country representatives), the Secretariat (based in Suva) and the Technical Advisory Group (TAG). TAG comprises advisors who are nominated by member countries and by supporting Governments and organisations, or are invited by the Secretariat.

The Commission's Work Program is formulated from member country requests, and is carried out by its Secretariat based in Suva, Fiji. SOPAC was established in 1972 as CCOP/SOPAC (the Committee for Coordination of Joint Prospecting for Mineral Resources in South Pacific Offshore Areas) under the sponsorship of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). In 1984, CCOP/SOPAC changed its legal status to become an independent, regional inter-governmental body, changing its name to SOPAC (South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission) in 1989.

Funding

SOPAC is funded by a combination of statutory and voluntary contributions by its member countries and grants from donor governments and international agencies. An annual budget of around F$5 million supports the implementation of the Work Program and the operation of the Secretariat.

Supporting countries include Australia, Fiji and New Zealand as members, Canada, France, Republic of Korea, Japan, Norway, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. The European Union, Commonwealth Secretariat and UNDP are the principal multilateral supporting agencies. SOPAC has formal and informal links with many other supporting agencies and institutions. Member countries provide considerable support during survey work and ship time in the region is regularly contributed by other countries such as France, Japan, United States and Germany.

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  • International Year of Forests
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  • World Environment Day
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  • UNite to Combat Climate Change