Lesson Learned

Jill Key, coordinator, Pacific Invasives Learning Network (PILN), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme

With support from the Australian government's Regional Natural Heritage Program through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, PILN implemented a project to build capacity in the Pacific Islands in invasive species management. The project also focused on reducing the impact of invasive species on biodiversity and sustainable development in the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot.

What was the most important lesson learned?

Proactive follow-up after meetings and other events has a huge positive impact on participants’ enthusiasm and success in achieving their objectives.

Describe how you learned this and whether / how you have adapted your approach or specific project elements as a result.

PILN is a peer-learning network based on multi-sector country teams that work together on priority invasive species projects. At the first meeting in May 2006, six founding teams participated and, among other activities, drafted action plans for priority projects, making commitments for milestone activities. Emphasis was placed on making the commitments realistic and not overly ambitious – defining “baby steps” towards achieving project goals.

The network coordinator followed up with each team individually, encouraging and supporting, helping to revise commitments where appropriate, and sharing the successes among the wider network through a simple electronic newssheet.

In the three months since the meeting, projects have been advancing very rapidly and a number of other invasive species activities have also been initiated within the wider network. Some examples include initiating and completing strategic planning in Pohnpei, producing press releases across all teams, targeting invasive species across all teams, completing training in Palau and Samoa, and planning various exchanges and workshops across the region.

Network participants have expressed their pleasure at the interest and support received from the coordinator and fellow participants, resulting in positive feedback and inspiration for further activities.

PILN is a new initiative just starting a two-year pilot program. The lesson learned thus far indicates the importance of having a full-time proactive coordinator to get an effective network established. It also indicates the importance of making team commitments that are realistic and readily achievable, and placing value on sharing successes among the network. These form the basis of the continuing work in the pilot program.

- October 2006