Pacific island countries continue to pursue ways to improve and protect their environment and biodiversity services for sustainable livelihoods. Developing environmental protection documents is key to the sustainable use of natural resources.

Access to data for key environmental protection documents is critical and an open data format will facilitate the sharing of data for the production of national environment documents and reporting to environment conventions.

In the Pacific, environment data is often dispersed and stored on personal computers and lacks a centralised repository for storage and retrieval. This makes it challenging and difficult to access data to support environmental planning, monitoring, reporting and decision making in the Pacific region.

To improve access to, and use of data for environment reporting, representatives from FSM, Palau, Kiribati, and Samoa attended and participated in a South-South knowledge exchange and capacity building workshop held at SPREP Headquarters from 8-12 April.

The South-South knowledge exchange was organised by the SPREP Environmental Monitoring and Governance Programme through the GEF funded Inform project which aims at improving capacity in data management for better environmental reporting.

The Inform project is helping to establish national portals in 14 Pacific island countries; a central place to house key information and data on the environment for easy access and use by government agencies, planners, decision makers including key stakeholders.

Ms. Bineta Boraia IT Officer with the Kiribati Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development said, “This South-South exchange has helped me learn from my other Pacific colleagues how to interact with other cultures. Interacting with people from other cultures and learning new skills can also change a person in different ways. The skill and knowledge you learn in this exchange helps you in your own work and how to approach other people. The training on data management using the national portal is very valuable in my work on environment information.”

Mr. Snyther Biza, the GIS/Data officer for FSM’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Emergency Management said that the South-South Exchange has helped him understand the value of accessing information and data and making these resources available to government and for public use. He plans to continue this capacity building upon return to FSM to show other colleagues how to upload datasets with resources and manage the national portal. “Information available in the portal will help FSM prepare national reports and reporting to international conventions.”

The workshop provided an excellent platform for participants to learn more on the value of having a centralised place for storing and accessing including ways to interpret, analyse and present data in a simple and meaningful way.

Ms. Charmaine Bitlaol, Programme Assistant for the Palau Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, said they learned about the importance and benefits of data sharing for effective decision making. “We’ve learned how to manage data through the data portals which I think is very effective in organizing and presenting data in a way that’s simple enough for users to sort through and for content creators to put in data and continue to expand the scope of data in there.”

“The work complements my country in providing a portal that is easily accessible to us and other countries so that data is published and shared. I think it encourages my work and my country to publicize the work and data that we have to offer. This work will also encourage our people to be more open minded and creative in that when they see the data that is on the portal and how it can influence decision making at the national and regional levels then they are inspired to do more to expand the data.”

Paul Anderson, the Inform project manager, said improved data management is critical for the development of key environment documents including the State of Environment (SoE) report and National Environmental Management Strategy (NEMS). National and international planning and reporting relies on access to data and the national environmental data portal serves as the storehouse for data and information. For example, “The SoE reports and data on the portal inform SDGs related to the environment sector like solid waste, protected areas and CO2 emissions which are SDGs 11.6, 14.5, 15.2 and 13.”

Several Pacific island countries are now in the various stages of developing and completing their State of Environment (SoE) Reports, and the national data portal populated with datasets can facilitate the development of this document.

For more information on the Inform Project, contact Mr. Paul Anderson, Inform Project Manager on email: [email protected].

To access the regional data portal, please visit

To learn more about the Inform project, please visit