Confronting environmental treaty implementation challenges in the Pacific Islands

Date
2010
Authors
Chasek, Pamela S.
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Honolulu, HI: East-West Center
Abstract
Popular literature and the entertainment industry commonly portray the Pacific Islands as a homogeneous, tropical, and timeless Eden where life is leisurely and free from care and the problems of the twenty-first century. The region's tourist industry itself does its utmost to promote that very image and first-time visitors to Hawaii today are often unprepared to discover that Honolulu, for example, is a modern metropolis with high-rise buildings and freeways. Located in the world's largest ocean, Pacific nations and territories are among the smallest on earth. The region is also one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse places in the world, as well as one of the most fragile and vulnerable--with Island countries often separated by hundreds of miles of open sea. In this paper, Pamela S. Chasek describes how, as a result of such circumstances, regional cooperation is necessary, albeit difficult. Environmental issues, particularly global warming with attendant sea-level rise, are a major concern, Chasek explains. At the same time, participation in multilateral environmental agreements is particularly demanding and often beyond the capacity of the small-island entities. Not infrequently, Chasek asserts, environmental ministries within local governments are small and lack the trained personnel and sufficient economic resources to effectively accomplish their mission.
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