The Office of the Oceans Commissioner (OPOC) is stepping up to the emerging ocean issues by supporting and coordinating the work of Pacific Islands Forum member countries in their negotiations, said OPOC Commissioner Dr. Filimon Maloni in an interview with Island Times during the Pacific Preparatory Workshop toward a new plastic pollution treaty, in Koror, Palau on October 16, 2023.

The vision for OPOC, said the Commissioner, is to have a well-coordinated oceans work in the region, where members coalesce around a priority and help make that priority become a reality.

“I think the important role that the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner can play is supporting our members in those sometimes difficult negotiations. BBNJ is a good example of the utility of OPOC as a coordination mechanism, leading and facilitating the views of all stakeholders and then coordinating the necessary technical support to our negotiators,” said Commissioner Maloni.

Dr. Maloni added, “We’ve just completed the BBNJ negotiations to look at biodiversity now holistically, CBD zone, and then the ongoing plastics negotiations.”

The Office of the Oceans Commissioner separated from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in February of 2023 and will be based in Palau, with a move expected in 2024.

With this, OPOC will focus on better coordinating the work of different stakeholders in the region, including members, partners, and civil society organizations, and work to ensure that the interests of all Pacific countries are represented in the global oceans’ negotiations.

“The move to establish the office in Palau shows that the leaders themselves care about making everybody feel that they are inclusive in bringing all the regions together, giving the opportunities to the sub-region to host events. I also think the latest decision was a wise decision to show that we are all one region and we can all help host our offices and our regional organizations and share the same kind of commitments that they have expressed in their vision of what the region should be,” said Dr. Maloni.

Dr. Maloni said they are excited about the planned move to Palau and the decision made by the region’s leaders.

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