Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Talking climate change with Alan Porteous of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research

By Mona Ainu’u Broadcasting Corporation of Niue

Closing Bulletin, June 20011, Apia Samoa - The global community needs to work together quickly, systematically and scientifically otherwise they are endangering the lives of everyone, in particularly the vulnerable small island states, said Alan Porteous from the New Zealand Government Research Institute, NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research)

“A lot of the problems and risks that have to be managed by small countries can be overwhelming because they are generated from global activities,” said Porteous.

 “People in small island states are particularly vulnerable because some of the islands are quite low lying, there’s limited land area and there’s constraints on economic resources to actually make far reaching adaptation measures.  The challenge for us is to really listen to the concerns of the small island states and to work with them.  We need to take global responsibility and make sure the smaller states are not overwhelmed by what is really a global problem.”

Porteous attended the ‘Lessons learnt for future action’ conference on climate change adaptation that was held in Samoa this month.  He is no stranger to Samoa, having been involved in the Climate Early Warning System project that is designed to help the country respond quickly and effectively to adverse climate events.  This will help Samoa adapt to changes in the climate providing the nation with information to help them manage these sectors.

“We have started with agriculture and with health and will shortly be working in the forestry area so I’ll need to know firstly a lot about what the communities want, what do sectors of the economy want and the kind of information that is useful for day to day decision making and for a long term perspective on climate change”.

One of the key issues discussed during the four day conference was ‘Information and Awareness Raising,’ the need for scientists to be able to relay information to the general audience was raised, as well as the acknowledgement of the range of communication tools available to ensure the scientific information is shared to local communities.

“It’s something we do need a lot of help on the key is probably ‘listening’.  Listen to people’s concerns, listen to the type of language they use and that of the environment and the communities they work in and try match the science, understanding and use of the scientific language to those needs and to that level of understanding”.

For more on the Climate Early Warning System please visit:

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