By Daniel Namosuaia, Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com
8 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - The 2013 Joint meeting of the Pacific Joint Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable was opened by Fiji’s Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum in Nadi, Fiji today.
In his opening remarks Khaiyum said the challenges Pacific Island Countries and Territories face with climate change and disaster related issues is real and needs urgent attention and action.
“This meeting is about the need of the Pacific for an integrated approach to deal with climate change and disaster related issues.
Mr. Khaiyum said the Pacific needs to prepare for these challenges with a collective response at the regional, national and community levels despite the limited resources available.
“In formulating an integrated disaster risk management plan I urge you all to bear in mind some of the important principles to address the challenges we all face as Pacific nations.
“… our resources are limited, and we need a holistic approach of problem solving, that is practical affordable and involves a close partnerships between governments, business community and civil society.
“We also need to strike the balance between the urgent need to mitigate against the effects of climate change and the economic capability of the small islands states,” Khaiyum said.
Adding that the Pacific is clearly not to be blamed for global warming but are the victims of the big carbon emitters who under natural justice should carry the burden and problems that they have created.
He said the question on integrated response is the challenge that the Pacific face because of the massive destruction, crumpling economies and retarding of Pacific economies now happening because of the impacts of climate change.
The Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme David Sheppard reiterated that though Pacific countries only contribute 0.03% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, our countries are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea level rise.
“We are the first impacted and will be the first to go under,” Sheppard said.
He said Island countries are very vulnerable and have high levels of risk to both climate change and natural disasters.
“These issues make it critical that we combine our resources and expertise as responsible individual, institutional and corporate citizens of the Pacific islands region. The objectives of this meeting are not only very timely but also very crucial…we must integrate our responses if we are to effectively address the challenges of climate change and natural disasters in this century.”
Adding that actions are needed at all levels, from international to national.
Sheppard further stressed those International commitments on financing need to be met and delivered to countries now, and not just talked about.
“We must be forward looking. I urge all the presenters and those making interventions to heed this call, for us to not dwell too much on what we have done, well or otherwise, but to apply ourselves to discussing what needs to be doing to secure our future – as stated at Rio+20 –THE FUTURE WE ALL WANT.”
Meanwhile Director General of Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Dr Jimmie Rodgers highlighted that the convening of the meeting is an achievement and a milestone for the Pacific.
Dr Rodgers encouraged all experts who will participate, to utilise their expertise to take the Pacific forward to ensure that their decisions will lead to a Pacific community resilient to disasters and the impacts of climate change.
He stressed that understanding risks is crucial in managing climate change impacts.
Dr Rodgers said the best way forward is to integrated resources to collectively help position the region to move forward and make decisions that help protect the future of pacific people.