Apr 20, 2019 Last Updated 4:50 AM, Apr 19, 2019

For tuna and the islands

  • Apr 21, 2019
  • Published in March

After running his family’s fishing business for most of his adult life and then spending eight years at the head of the Pacific’s regional fisheries management agency, has James Movick earned the honorary title of ‘Old Man of the Sea’?

To find out, Islands Business publisher Samisoni Pareti had a (virtual) sit down interview with Movick, offering him the opportunity to review his years with the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and share some insights into the difficult issues he grappled with in leading negotiations with powerful nations over the Pacific’s much sought-after resource.

Islands Business: How are you spending your time now that you have successfully completed your two, three-year terms as Director General of the FFA?

James Movick: I am currently providing some consulting services to the Office of the FSM President, assisting to analyse and recommend policy issues primarily in fisheries and regional arrangements. This arrangement allows me to get reacquainted with FSM issues and organisation after eight years away, while providing some degree of public service back to my country for supporting my candidacy and tenure at FFA. In addition, I am still engaged in some regional work stemming from initiatives that I was involved in as FFA DG. In particular I am the Chairman of the Reference Group for the Pacific Fusion Centre that is under consideration by Australia and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. Apart from that, I continue to advocate my firm belief that we must responsibly manage our fisheries and oceanic resources for the benefit of our Pacific peoples in line with the Blue Pacific identity.

IB: How would you describe the six years you were FFA DG?

JM: The six years were challenging and enjoyable. Being at the centre of complex issues and seeking acceptable and effective ways through has always been exciting for me. It was a time for expanding networks and making some very good friends across the region and globally.

I was blessed to have had a great team of staff at FFA, especially the Deputy Director General for most of that time, Mr Wez Norris. Wez and I committed to work closely as a team and we did that through our respective skills, experience and approaches. I was also very fortunate to have governing bodies of officials and ministers who were engaged, committed and very knowledgeable about the issues. They challenged us in our work, analysis and recommendations and made all of us and the region better off for that. 

In all it was hard to believe that six years had flown by so quickly. With hindsight I would say that two three-year terms is really quite short to get significant new initiatives conceived and implemented. I am grateful and humbled therefore to have received the recognition that Wez and I did receive for what others consider to have been a job well done. I wish I could have done more.

IB: What would you identify as the main challenge or challenges you faced at FFA?

JM: My tenure at FFA encompassed an eight year period, the first two as Deputy Director General and the remaining six serving two terms as FFA Director General. In consultation with Director General Dan Sua, my top priority when I started as Deputy Director General in 2010 was to work toward the appropriate realignment of FFA’s role and work to be complementary and supportive of the evolution of focused sub-regional fisheries management groupings, such as the then new PNA Office. The second was to reorganise our economic development functions to better meet the emerging new priorities of market access and national investment development, while my third priority was to more directly link FFA’s interventions to mutually agreed directed outcomes at the national level. We made good progress in all of these.

Addressing these priorities continued after 2012 when I assumed the position of FFA Director General. To these I added priorities of: heightened advocacy of the Zone Rights Based Management legal framework that underpins Pacific Islands Country success in global tuna fisheries management; strengthening and promoting the distinctive and effective FFA regional framework of Monitoring Control and Surveillance; improving FFA governance, administration and accountability; and heightening the visibility and strengthening the role of FFA and PIC regional fisheries within regional and international policymaking consideration. I am pleased with the progress that was made on all of these, and the acknowledgement that was received from FFA members and regional ministers and leaders. All these achievements should properly be credited to the entire FFA staff team and senior national officials who comprise our operational decision makers.

IB: What would you list as some of the highlights of your work at FFA?

JM: The accomplishments of FFA are a function of the hard work and commitment of the FFA secretariat team and FFA members, the support of development partners, and the vision and leadership of fisheries ministers and heads of government. 

During my tenure high-lights of the Agency’s accomplishments include the following:

  • Increased regional understanding and support for the basic Zone Rights-Based Management legal framework that underpins PIC capability and success in oceanic fisheries management and increased financial returns

  • With the MRAG study on regional Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and the adoption of the regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) strategy, establishing clear monitoring frameworks and benchmarks against which progress in the effectiveness of MCS measures and the fight against IUU can be effectively measured in the future 

  • International recognition and emulation of FFA’s Monitoring, Control & Surveillance platforms and frameworks and zone rights based management legal framework

  • Integration of fisheries and political groupings of sub-regional interest into the work programme and culture of FFA secretariat and governing councils

  • Establishing a close and positive working relationship with other Council of Regional Organisations (CROP) CEOs, regional ministers and leaders

  • Adoption by Leaders of fisheries as a standing PILF agenda item.

IB: Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing was a big issue even before you joined. You were quite vocal during your time at FFA about addressing IUU. Now that you've completed your term as DG, are you satisfied with the progress of work done?

JM: The fight against IUU fishing is a never-ending one. I am satisfied with what we did during my term. This includes adoption of the regional MCS strategy, commencement of the regional information management framework for fisheries information integration and sharing, new regional air surveillance, enhanced support from the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre and regional MCS frameworks, and introduction of academically-certified professional training for fisheries enforcement officers. Very importantly, with the MRAG study on regional IUU and the adoption of the regional MCS strategy, we have established clear monitoring frameworks and benchmarks against which progress in the effectiveness of MCS measures and the fight against IUU can be effectively measured in the future. This is very important at both national and regional level to ensure accountability that we are actually making progress in the fight against IUU.

IB: Is there anything that remains to be done on IUU?

JM: Electronic reporting and monitoring, assessment and incorporation of cost effective new surveillance, communications, AI technology and drone technology. Embedding the air surveillance capability. Linking FFA fisheries IUU systems to also support and be informed by broader regional maritime and trans-national crime security systems such as the Boe Declaration and PFC. Most of all, working with countries to ensure that they are effectively and efficiently implementing their MCS obligations and needs at the national and local level.

IB: What about the Tokelau Arrangement? Am I right in thinking that this would be one of your legacies as DG of FFA, a real, significant attempt to save the South Pacific albacore tuna? What has this achieved, what are the obstacles, and what needs to happen in order to make this Arrangement effective?

JM: Since at least 2004, when I was the founding and first Chair of the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association (PITIA), I have been encouraging the countries who share the southern albacore longline fishery to adopt a collective approach, similar to the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) for the purse seine fishery, in order to assert their collective coastal states rights under the United Nations Law of the Sea (UN LOS) and Fish Stocks Agreements and gain better leverage to manage their shared highly migratory resource including on the adjacent high seas. During my tenure I was able to work with those FFA members to establish the Tokelau Agreement in 2012/13. 
Subsequent effort to forge an agreed allocation of fishing catch amongst the parties has been extremely challenging as single national interests have too often trumped collective regional consensus.

IB: Another major challenge during your time was the US Multilateral Treaty. What’s your thoughts on this, now that you have left the FFA? Is this the kind of arrangement FFA members should continue to pursue collectively you think? Or because of the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS), is such multilateral arrangements on fisheries is no longer relevant?

JM: The future of the US treaty in its current form is still not entirely clear. As you know changes were made in the last US treaty amendment to make the Treaty more flexible to take better account of difference in condition and interests of both the PICs as well the US fleet. The PNA VDS has certainly changed the dynamic between and within the two parties, and PNA member and PNA Office support was critical to concluding this last treaty negotiation. 

With the revised treaty we are seeing changes in the operations of US boats which has resulted in a reduction in the uptake of days by the US fleet. Whether that is a trend is not yet clear. It is also still premature to reach any conclusions on the prospects for growth in US fishing in the non PNA member EEZs apart from Cook Islands. On the other hand, even some of the PNA member countries may face diminished leverage and benefits if there is no collective US treaty. What is clear is that there is a wide range of interests in the treaty amongst the PICs, and those interests can be quite sharp given the widely diverse financial implications for all members. On top of that, because the US Treaty is the principal modality of US government engagement with many of the PICs, its negotiation and renewal could be expected to result in diplomatic pressure being applied on the PICs by the US and its supporters, which may not be appreciated. In that regard, in my meetings with US diplomats I have urged that the US broaden its relationship with PICs across a range of sectors and modalities rather than be so heavily dependent on and susceptible to the treaty. There is even strong doubt as to whether the bulk of the US fleet will see continued advantage in the treaty.

IB: At one time during your stint, the Pew Trust was involved in an initiative to launch its own fisheries vessel surveillance system, using high tech systems with a UK company. What is you view about such private sector initiatives?

JM: The interest of outside groups in improved monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) in the region is to be welcomed. But these groups need to understand and accept that the success of the region in its oceanic fisheries management and enforcement is primarily due to the collective strength and adherence to common frameworks that they have been developed to suit their context. Our external friends are encouraged to work with those regional frameworks. Initially many external groups thought that the region was devoid of effective surveillance capabilities but they soon realized that the FFA Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is in place and is world leading in many attributes. Even more importantly, that surveillance capability is integrally linked into an effective regional system to ensure compliance, cross-border enforcement, uniform national enforcement and competency and effective fisheries management and legal frameworks. 


On the other hand the PICs cannot afford to be complacent in the fight against IUU fishing. Technology continues to evolve, presenting new threats and opportunities, while resources for this sector are still relatively scarce. Many of the new external groups; private sector, NGO and philanthropic, are much better resourced than FFA and individual PICs, especially with technological expertise. The region needs to work with these groups and other cooperating partners to improve our technological capability in all forms of aerial surveillance, electronic monitoring and reporting, artificial intelligence and traceability systems. 
However my strong advice and caution to PICs is that we must collectively take the leadership to demand and establish common frameworks within which these new technologies and initiatives will be linked and mandated, in order to preserve regional ownership and control. Some of the current initiatives in this area appear to be rather more institutionally competitive and headline oriented than controlled and directed from and for the PIC collective.

IB: Can I seek your views on the relationships and dynamics between the FFA and partner organisations like:

a. Parties of the Nauru Agreement

JM: The fact is that from that outset in 2010 the FFA secretariat has remained committed to our role to support and supplement the capability of our PNA members to secure improved benefits within their particular fishery. The establishment of the PNA Office as well as other sub-regional fisheries-of-common- interest (such as the Tokelau Agreement parties and VDS sub-pooling arrangements), are a natural evolution of the fundamental PIC legal framework of zone rights based management that firmly underpins the establishment of the FFA. 

b: Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)

JM: The principal initiative to establish the WCPFC came from the FFA member countries. No doubt most of the fisheries management measures and tools established by the Commission do benefit FFA members. While tuna conservation is better in the WCPFC than under any other tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (t-RFMO), that sustainability cannot be taken for granted given frequent aberrant self-interest and unprincipled behaviour on the part of a number of distant water fishing nations. 

The capability to secure measures that appropriately take into account PIC management frameworks, especially zone rights based management and coastal states sovereignty and sovereign rights, as well as genuinely recognize special and principled recognition of the rights and needs of SIDS and territories, are even more challenging now. The decision-making rule of consensus or two chamber voting, simply engenders falling back on lowest common denominator measures rather than best practice, and fosters gridlock and blackmail. 

c. CROPS, namely the SPC, PIFS and SPREP, remembering one time FFA and SPC had some issues over work jurisdictions and mandates

JM: Over the past 6 years the relationship between FFA and its CROP partners (namely the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Secretariat for the Pacific Commission, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP) and University of the South Pacific, but also the Pacific Power Association (PPA), South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) has gone from strength to strength. In the past two years in particular the professional and personal relationship between the CEOs of the CROP organisations has been at the closest and most dynamic that I have seen. It was with genuine personal regret that I left this august group. 

By the time I commenced at FFA in 2010 the relationship between FFA and SPC, especially its Oceans Fishery Program and its GEM maritime boundary team, was very close and cooperative. This relationship is formalised in an MOU and operationalized each year in an annual colloquium. 

The adoption of the “Blue Pacific” identity driver at the 2017 Pacific Islands Leaders Forum provided a favourable context to re-set the FFA-PIFS relationship and the support of PIF Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor was very much appreciated in the Leaders’ decision to include fisheries as a standing item on the annual Forum agenda. That close working relationship continued until my departure from FFA and I am optimistic that it will continue to grow to the benefit of the region. 

FFA’s relationship with SPREP has been less defined than with SPC, PIFS and USP. The possibility for divergence and conflict over resource management principles between FFA managers and stakeholders and those of SPREP and associated groups should be recognised and actively addressed. For example, efforts by various parties seeking to list specific peak migratory species under CITES etc can undermine sound multi-species management of oceanic fisheries resources in the WCPFC. 

IB: We never got to ask you of your thoughts about your successor. Dr Manu Tupou Roosen. She worked under you as your Legal Counsel, what was your reaction when she got the nod to be the next DG?

JM: Dr Manu Tupou Roosen secured her appointment from amongst a field of highly competent candidates and I have no doubt that she will be an excellent Director General of FFA. Her legal expertise, her intelligence, her passion for the work of the Agency and her personable manner and networks will all stand her in good stead. I was pleased that with her appointment the on-going work of the Agency will be least disrupted in the short to medium term while her familiarity and expertise will better enable her to craft new and creative ways to move the Agency and region ahead as her tenure proceeds. I wish her all the very best in her leadership of FFA and have full confidence that she will do an exemplary job.

IB: What’s next for Mr James Movick, any interest in entering national politics for example?

JM: Whatever happens in my future I am fairly certain that it will not include being a political candidate. My role has always been more about running programs and providing technical support and advice, and I prefer it that way. 

Having blood ties to Micronesia, Polynesia, Melanesia and colonial Europeans, the regional perspective is also quite natural for me. I am therefore grateful to the PIC representatives and the Government of Australia for asking me to Chair the Reference Group for establishment of the Pacific Fusion Centre which seeks to better coordinate and integrate regional analysis and information sharing for broader regional security in support of the Boe Declaration. 

Indepth this month focuses on the address of the 2017 chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi at last December’s UNFCCC COP24 in Katowice, Poland. He gave the address at the side event of the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner at the Pacific and Koronivia Pavillion. He spoke on the theme, ‘Understanding the Ocean Climate Crosswalk: A Pacific Perspective.’

Blue Pacific
Samoa and our Pacific Island Forum members see ourselves as a Blue Pacific continent. That should not come as a surprise to you all because we recognise the geostrategic, economic, cultural and ecological importance of the world’s largest ocean, the Pacific Ocean, which we call our home.

Importance of the Ocean
The Pacific Ocean has provided our island communities their cultural and historical identity and attachment since time immemorial. The ocean exceeds land masses by an average factor of 300 to 1, and the Pacific peoples rely on the ocean for food, income, culture, and recreation that are so Pacific Ocean it also means we are custodians of some of the world’s richest biodiversity and marine resources. We recognise that this natural endowment is our greatest asset that must be sustainably managed for the benefit of our present and future generations. Therefore as guardians of the largest portion of the Pacific Ocean, our leadership as the Blue Pacific matters greatly. Coral reef ecosystems created our atoll islands and they are our natural barriers that protect shorelines from storm surge and erosion – defending our villages, businesses, government structures and residents at coastal areas.

Action on Ocean
As a region, we have adopted a number of ocean related communiques and declarations and take pride in our leadership on ocean governance arrangements. We have established a ban on driftnet fishing; invested in key partnerships to help address IUU fishing; have lobbied for the stand alone SDG Goal 14 on Oceans and continue to call for its effective implementation. Our region also has a total of 346 marine protected areas. We as Leaders of the region have committed to fast track the development of policies to ban the use of single-use plastic bags, plastic and styrofoam packaging and we called on Pacific Rim partners to join and commit to action on addressing marine pollution and marine debris. These are a few examples to address some of the mounting negative impacts on the health of the ocean, driven by human activity. These initiatives also highlight the value our region places in protecting and promoting the development and security of the Pacific Ocean. 

Furthermore Pacific Leaders in 2017 decided on a regional security declaration and welcomed the extensive security discussions held on an expanded concept of security inclusive of human security, humanitarian assistance, prioritising environmental security and regional cooperation in building resilience to disasters and climate change. Pacific Leaders in 2018 adopted a Regional Security Declaration known as the Boe Declaration which responds to the region’s complex and evolving regional security environment. An action plan for implementation, is being developed and we call on the UN and all partners for support in this regard.

National Ocean Action
For Samoa at the UN Ocean Conference that focused on the implementation of SDG14 on Ocean, we made 12 voluntary commitments in support of SDG14 implementation. These commitments included solid waste management efforts; approaches to address land-based pollution through river and coastal health ecosystem monitoring, plus policies and projects to manage plastics marine litter. We also looked at efforts that involve communities in fisheries management and coastal infrastructure management plans that also help them build resilience and adapt to impacts of climate change. We have committed to ensuring improved scientific information and knowledge for more informed policy making on fisheries issues and prohibiting the use of destructive fishing methods in Samoa’s fishery waters. In support of healthy ocean ecosystems which are under threat from plastic waste and marine litter, Samoa has restricted the importation of plastic bags since the introduction of the Plastic Bag Prohibition on Importation Regulations 2006.

We are taking further steps to address marine litter and have now instituted a ban on single use plastic bags and plastic straws which will take effect from January 2019. It is also intended that Styrofoam food containers and cups will be banned once environmentally friendly options have been identified and are in use. And our public has already responded proactively!

Climate change and Ocean
Sadly, despite our best efforts to sustainably manage the ocean, climate-change driven impacts such as ocean acidification are among a number of serious threats to the health and resilience of our shared ocean. We cannot speak about oceans in isolation and it should be an integral part of our climate discussions.

The recent IPCC Special 1.5 Report shows that a 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming is not just a limit for SIDS, it’s a limit for every one. From extreme weather events to sea level rise, from slowed economic growth to biodiversity loss, the report speaks to the risks of exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius. For our blue Pacific continent, it is a risk we cannot afford.

The coral reefs, that provide about 70% of the protein in the diet of Pacific Islanders and that help provide protection to at least 50% of the Pacific people living within 1.5km of the coast, will be severely degraded at 1.5°C of warming, and will all but disappear at 2°C. Healthy coral reefs attract tourism, which is a key industry that generates USD4 billion for Pacific Island countries. Ocean warming can mean huge losses in revenue, a turnover in species composition and changes in migration patterns of fish stocks. Estimates suggest that global fisheries catch will decrease by 3 million tonnes per degree Celsius of warming. This is worrying for fisheries-dependent nations like ours. The risk of irreversible loss of many marine and coastal ecosystems increases with global warming, especially with warming of 2°C or more.

The ocean however, has a two-way relationship with weather and climate. The ocean influences the weather, while changes in climate can fundamentally alter many properties of the oceans. Clearly, the ocean is a key component of the climate system. Scientists continue to highlight the critical role played by the Ocean in regulating the Climate. The Ocean is one of the major sinks of carbon sequestration and storage.

For us the ocean – climate “crosswalk” is clear. Addressing the adverse impacts of climate change and ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources are two key and interlinked priorities for our Blue Pacific. Ocean and Climate Action are two sides of the same coin.

Oceans in UNFCCC
I reiterate the importance of the inextricable links between ocean and climate. A key focus therefore of our engagement of the Pacific in the COP process is on this link and the need for Oceans to become an integral part of the continuing climate change agenda. The launching of the Oceans Pathway at COP23 led by Pacific leaders sought to address and strengthen actions related to the ocean–climate nexus. 

I have earlier highlighted some of the devastating impacts for us at above 1.5 degrees Celsius warming. Unfortunately, the IPCC 1.5 report confirms that the current commitments are far from sufficient and will not achieve the Paris Agreement’s warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is why the objective of the Talanoa Dialogue is crucial. That is, we need to raise the level of ambition of the next round of ND Cs. We believe the ocean is key to raising these ambitions not only as the Earth’s largest carbon sink, but it has the potential for clean energy generation, a source of food security and supply, and a storehouse of ecosystems, which when healthy, can protect coastlines.

Be Ocean inclusive
Oceans plays a critical role in achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and objectives of the UNFCCC. Therefore I stress the need to ensure the relevant inclusion of the Ocean in this UNFCCC process.

I also call everyone to work together for genuine and durable partnerships, that can turn Urgent Ocean Action into much needed Ambitious Climate Action. - Courtesy of the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Indepth (Id) talks to long time climate change negotiator for the Tuvalu Government, Dr Ian Fry as the world meets in Katowice, Poland this month to finalise the rule book of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Dr Fry specially shared his views on the recent report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about 1.5 degrees.

Id: What was your reaction when you read through the latest report of the IPCC on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels?

IF: The report confirmed the concerns we always had about climate change, as we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, particularly through more severe cyclones and weather events. A recent UN report states that the economic cost of climate-related disasters hit US$2.25 trillion over the last two decades, an increase of more than 250 per cent compared to the previous 20 years. It is patently obvious that we are suffering the impacts of climate change now. Adding another 0.5 deg C temperature will make things a whole lot worse.

(Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-climate-linked-disasters-soars.html#jCp)

Id: Was there anything new you read in the report or it was like, “Tuvalu told you so”?

IF: While we were aware of concerns, the details of the scientific research was far more detailed than what we knew ourselves. Concerns about the Artic and biodiversity loss are some of the details that have been highlighted in the report.

Id: From the report, what will Tuvalu look like, both on land and at sea, if global warming is kept at 1.5 deg C or less?

IF: Tuvalu is likely to look much different to what it is today. It depends on what course of action we take to address the likely impacts. Critically we are going to have to build up our coastal defences against storm surges. This means building various forms of coastal protection such as sea walls. We are likely to have to find ways of lifting the elevation of large parts of the country so that....

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In August, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) held two very public events in Fiji which signaled a new proactive approach in their work in Fiji. One was the launch of a new study it produced, funded by the Government of Australia, titled: From Farm to Tourist Table and the other was the launch of a new project to promote employersupported childcare in Fiji.

The events were officially launched in Suva by one of IFC’s Vice President for Asia and the Pacific, Nena Stoiljkovic, who took up the role in January, after working in the IFC and its sister organisation the World Bank for over 25 years.

IB’s Dionisia Tabureguci caught up with Stoiljkovic during her stay in Suva where she shared a bit about the work IFC will be doing in the Pacific region.

IB: Tell us a bit about your background experience and how you expect to apply that in your work in the Pacific region?

Stoiljkovic: I am from Serbia, a country in the Balkans. That by itself is fragile and is a conflict affected country because of the civil war. I left the country in 1995 and have worked for IFC for almost 25 years now. Being from a developing country has helped me understand development problems and development challenges in countries where IFC works across the globe. So I could always relate to issues of gender, infrastructure, issues of fragility and it has brought me to the Pacific, with some ideas of how we can  help Pacific countries develop further. And the second thing I want to point out from my background is the value of having worked across the business lines of IFC. Most of us come from the investment backgrounds, which teaches us how to structure transactions, how to identify profitable projects with the private sector. I myself had the privilege to work on advisory services. I was running all of IFC’s advisory services. I also had the opportunity to work for the World Bank to understand how the public sector works. As a vice president, I was running their global practices. And then also some innovative financial instruments to de-risk the private sector. So with a spectrum of financial tools and with my origin from a developing country, I believe that I can now use all of that to implement some innovative solutions here in the Pacific.

IB: Your background includes promoting development finance. What is it and its relevance in the Pacific?

Stoiljkovic: Normally IFC finances private sector companies. And as you know when private sector invests, private sector wants profits, wants to make money, wants to make their businesses profitable. What we have realised is that in some countries, including in the Pacific, not all the projects can be immediately profitable and viable. So the innovative financial instruments that we now have allow us to provide blended finance, which is priced below market rates or commercial rates, to encourage private sector to invest. In a first of its kind project in a particular sector, once we bring private sector to such a project using those de-risking instruments, we actually can develop a sector further, we actually can develop a pipeline of projects in the sector and bring more private sector to participate. We actually have a range of experiences like this in Africa where we worked on the first of its kind PPP solar project in one country and we are now scaling it across other countries and we are now trying to implement some of those solutions here in the Pacific. That’s work in progress but we have instruments and tools that we can use already in the Pacific.

IB: That hasn’t been done in the Pacific?

Stoiljkovic: Not much. We had a first facility of that nature with the ANZ Bank where we are trying to develop smaller renewable energy projects across 8 countries in the Pacific and for that facility which is US$50 million, we’re using blended finance to de-risk the projects. And if this solution works for renewable energy, we can use it for different sector, we can structure some similar facilities with small and medium businesses, in agriculture or any other sectors.

IB: Why renewable energy?

Stoiljkovic: We as the World Bank Group and IFC in particular are focusing on cleaner sources of energy and helping countries either increase access to power – because some countries in the Pacific, unlike Fiji, Fiji almost has full access to energy, but in the
other countries, we don’t have that, so we’re trying to help them with alternative sources of energy, to increase their access to power and in some countries we’re simply trying to increase the energy mix so that we have more clean energy. And when you have a lot of sun, a lot of water in some countries, we’re trying to pursue both solar and hydro projects. Wind as well.

IB: You have also had extensive experience in the gender area.

Stoiljkovic: Well, gender has always been with me somehow. When I was Vice President for Advisory Services (at the World Bank), I was home to our gender secretariat. When I ran IFC operations, I was also focusing on gender and in the last year, before I assumed this position, I was running IFC’s cross cutting advisory services which hosts the gender secretariat, so I was in charge for developing the strategy for gender for IFC. I promoted tackling childcare study globally, supported many of the gender efforts and solutions that IFC has been engaged in. We’ve worked now in the Pacific, in Solomon Islands on 16 companies, helping them to train their women workers to become leaders, to help them address some gender issues including violence, so I’m very proud of that work and hopefully we can do more of that across the Pacific.

IB: Is this why IFC has launched a gender initiative in Fiji? Because you came in or was it always in the works?

Stoiljkovic: Well, it is one piece of it. Because we have already done one childcare study globally, it’s an opportunity for us where we could look at the solutions around childcare for all reasons that we’ve mentioned, here in Fiji. But to me, when I look at women, I look at women as employees, so childcare is going to help women as employees to be more present and less absent, and that will help the employers. I also look at women as business owners, entrepreneurs and we also have a range of ways of supporting women entrepreneurs, teaching them and sharing experience with them and of course we have women as leaders. When you look at the world’s population, 50 per cent is women. In many countries 50 per cent of women also go to school and what is happening is they drop out somehow from the productive workforce, they obviously get stagnant, they cannot progress in their workplaces and at the IFC, we’re trying to address that.

IB: A lot is said about Private Sector Development – is this an area that the IFC will also tackle here?

Stoiljkovic: Yes, a strong focus of the IFC is the private sector. We work exclusively with the private sector but what we have learnt with this approach of creating markets and working on sectors is that they’re not fully developed or the private sector is not fully
engaged. We have learnt that there is a lot of project preparation, a lot of upstream work, a lot of advisory services that have to be put in for some of those sectors to open up. And that also means that we will work more closely with public sector. Some of the constraints to private sector development will have to be addressed by the government. Our colleagues from the World Bank will work from the public sector to help us address them. So we’re trying to be a little more proactive and not just to look at ready projects for us to finance but to work more on developing then preparing them for financing. And then as I mentioned de-risking and only then coming in with more commercial financial instruments and mobilisation. We believe that approach will get us to maximising finance for development. And that will come mostly from the private sector because as you know, the private sector has those millions and trillions to be invested in many economies.

IB: The signing of a Cooperation Agreement between IFC and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Fiji signals a new partnership. What will that involve?

Stoiljkovic: I’m very excited about the signing of that agreement. The report is called “From Farm to Tourist Table.” Given the importance of tourism to Fiji and Fijian economy, given the fact that tourism is a large employer of the Fijian people, we are hoping to increase the benefits of tourism to the local economy. When you look at food consumed or purchased by hotels, more than 50 per cent of it is imported. And that puts pressure on foreign exchange currency, it also means that the money doesn’t stay here in Fiji and the Fijian economy. So the study helped us address the issues or constraints of why chefs and hotels are not buying local produce. Some of the key constraints identified were around quality, reliability of supply, standards. We will work together with the Ministry with the support of the Australian Government who has financed our work on the study, to remove some of those constraints. We’ll find some pilot hotel projects and we’ll work with them to create better links to the local produce in agriculture. And of course being who we are, the next step for us would be to support some of those producers – the local farmers – and finance their operations and allow them to grow, to become more reliable and to produce more quality products.

IB: When will this work begin?

Stoiljkovic: Well the partnership has just been launched so the study is already there identifying those constraints. We will now start piloting some of the works with specific hotel companies and chefs. And that will lead us to the next stage, which will be some financing.

For four years, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has been taking governments across the world to task, exposing human rights violations and robustly advocating for the rights of victims. His appointment by the Secretary-General back in 2014 was a landmark: he became the first Asian, Muslim and Arab ever to hold the post.

Before that, Zeid had already enjoyed a long and distinguished career, both at the UN and as a Jordanian diplomat. He served his country in several capacities, notably as Ambassador to the United States, and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, with a stint as President of the Security Council in January 2014.

The United Nations News first published this interview with Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Husssein on 16 August, 2018 and here are excerpts: 

UN News: When you compare the human rights landscape today to when you took over the UN human rights office back in 2014, what are the key differences that you see?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: When I took over, it coincided with the terrible videos put online by Daesh, or ISIS, which stoked a great deal of fear and horror. And we began to see a sort of a deepening of the crisis in Syria and in Iraq. And this then folded into two things:

One, a great determination to embark on counter-terrorism strategies, which we felt were, in part, excessive in certain respects. Every country has an obligation to defend its people, and the work of terrorism is odious and appalling and needs to be condemned and faced. But whenever there is excessive action, you don’t just turn one person against the State, you turn the whole family against the State. Ten or maybe more members could end up moving in the direction of the extremists.

And then, the migration debates, and the strengthening of the demagogues and those who made hay out of what was happening in Europe for political profit. As each year passed, we began to see a more intense pressure on the human rights agenda.

UN News: You have been very outspoken and you’ve called out governments and individual leaders around the world who have abused human rights. Do you see that as the most important role for the UN human rights chief?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: Yes. At the Human Rights High Commission, you’re part of the UN, but also part of the human rights movement and both are equally important. As I said on earlier occasions, governments are more than capable of defending themselves. It’s not my job to defend them. I have to defend civil society, vulnerable groups, the marginalised, the oppressed. Those are the people that we, in our office, need to represent. I always felt that that is the principle task: we provide technical assistance, we collect information, we go public on it. But in overall terms, the central duty for us is to defend the rights of those most marginalised and those that need it.

UN News: what if you come under pressure to stay silent?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: Well, the interesting thing is that the pressure on this particular job doesn’t really come very much from the governments. They all attack the office because we criticise all of them, but we also point to areas where there is improvement, and I sometimes will praise the government for doing the right thing. 

The real pressure on this job comes from the victims and those who suffer and expect a great deal from us. That’s the pressure that I think matters most in terms of the need to do the right thing.

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