VII. INFORMATION AND TRAINING NEEDS
2. Short-term training of government officials
Government officials have no problems with access to short-term training programmes in the form of seminars, workshops or conferences, and courses, either in Fiji or overseas. Given the interest shown in environmental issues by donors and international agencies, the environment attracts more than its fair share of that type of training. It could be argued that in Fiji the civil servants perhaps spend too much of their time on short-term training courses, and particular training that involves overseas travel.
(a) Seminars, workshop, and conferences
Seminars, workshop, and conferences are perhaps the most common mode of training for government officials in Fiji. Such events facilitate the exchange of information and ideas on specific environmental issues and help to create environmental awareness from the experiences of other countries. However, translating what is learned from international conferences and workshops into the work situation of each participating official remains a problem.
(b) In-country training courses provided by government agencies or institutions
In-country courses are provided in Fiji, but there is scope for greater utilization of that type of training for government officials dealing with the environment. Of greatest value are those courses that give the participants specific tools that can be utilized in their work situations. Examples include EIA in integrated approaches to resource management, and on specialized topics such as toxic waste disposal, water quality analysis and human ecology in development planning. Many of the topics are also relevant to the private sector and it is highly desirable to have private sector participants wherever feasible.
It is encouraging to note that short courses are now being offered in response to the anticipated enactment of the Sustainable Development Bill. However, in-country training courses can be more beneficial if they can be directly linked to on-the-job situations. For example, a training course on EIA could be presented over an extended period (perhaps one session per week) and involve the participants working on actual case studies from their work situation.
(c) Overseas short-term training courses
Fiji regularly takes advantage of training courses organized overseas, both in developed and developing countries. The development planners, administrators and decision makers of Fiji have also participated in training activities supported by the United Nations Environment Programme. That type of training is far more useful when it involves extended work attachments related to counterpart agencies in the country offering the training programme.