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Saqamoli Talks Episode 1 Sets the Stage for Transformative Action in Fiji’s Water Sector

Suva, Fiji – March 21, 2024 – World Water Day 2024 marked a significant milestone in Fiji’s pursuit of sustainable water and wastewater management as key stakeholders convened at the British High Commissioner’s Residence for the inaugural Saqamoli Talks Episode 1. Hosted by His Excellency, Dr. Brian Jones, the British High Commissioner to Fiji, this event provided a platform for dialogue and strategic planning aimed at propelling the nation towards a water-secure future.

Distinguished speakers at the event included Dr. Sivendra Michael, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change; Dr. Isoa Korovulavula, Natural Resource Management Specialist from the University of the South Pacific, and Dr. Amit Chanan, Chief Executive Officer of the Water Authority of Fiji. The audience comprised guests from the Government of Fiji, Private Sector, Donor Agencies, and Provincial Leaders. This gathering facilitated discussions to support the soon to be launched ground-breaking Water Sector Strategy 2050, designed to address the critical challenges confronting Fiji’s water resources.

The British High Commissioner, Dr. Brian Jones, emphasized the imperative of collaborative efforts to advance the Water Sector Strategy alongside the Water Authority of Fiji. Highlighting the importance of collaboration, he underscored its potential to address various issues plaguing the water sector, such as aging infrastructure and the creation of resilient water sources to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and climate change.

“We need to work together to be able to move the strategy forward, as clean water and reliable sanitation is important to everyone and would particularly benefit women, children, and people with disabilities in society, who normally bear the burden of water disruption. I have begun the journey with the Water Authority of Fiji and will continue to support moving this strategy forward, aiming to enhance gender inclusion and a more equal society as a means to address a lot of challenges in Fiji and in the water sector.”

The discussions surrounding the Water Sector Strategy 2050 garnered widespread acclaim and support, emphasizing the urgency of collective action in tackling water-related challenges. Mr. Rusiate Tudravu, Chairman of the Tailevu Provincial Council, expressed gratitude to the Water Authority of Fiji for initiating this vital journey and broadening perspectives on the collaborative efforts necessary to advance the Water Sector Strategy.

Mr Tudravu stressed the importance of provincial cooperation in supporting the Water Authority’s initiatives and urged all stakeholders to prioritize providing clean water, especially in light of climate change impacts and aging infrastructure.

Dr. Sivendra Michael, representing the government, reiterated the need for collaborative efforts to achieve the ambitious goals outlined in the Strategy.

“Climate change is bound to have more detrimental impacts in Fiji, and global data reveals this to us. We need to treat the issues of Water collectively and not in silos. The Government of Fiji is in support of this Water Sector Strategy 2050 and will help the Water Authority of Fiji. It is appreciative of its efforts and will support the drive with key stakeholders and Donor agencies to be able to prioritize this on its agenda moving forward as it affects the whole of Fiji.”

Dr. Isoa echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation in addressing complex water challenges.

“There is a real need for us to tackle the water issues in Fiji with an integrated approach and not individually as water affects and impacts everyone in Fiji and it is a deeper problem. It involves everyone. If we are able to build our own backyard resilience, we will be able to work better with the Water Authority of Fiji to build its resilience and Fiji as a whole during water issues faced in Fiji. I have had personal experiences that have enlightened my thoughts and led me to continue research and understand that we really need to work together as Water issues are not simple, it is a complicated issue and needs a lot of efforts to normalize and sustain to benefit the people of Fiji.”

The Saqamoli Talks Episode 1 served as a catalyst for renewed determination in addressing Fiji’s water challenges. By fostering dialogue, promoting collaboration, and charting a path towards sustainable water and wastewater management, this event laid the foundation for transformative change in the nation’s water sector.


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