Friday 27 May 2011

Agreement strengthens partnership between Pacific and Caribbean

Rosalie Nongebatu - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

Apia, Samoa - A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5C’s).

The agreement which was described as the first was signed at the end of the four day Lessons for Future Action Conference in Apia, Samoa.

The signing ceremony was held at the SPREP headquarters and the agreement was signed by the SPREP Director David Sheppard and the 5Cs Executive Director Dr Kenrick Leslie.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr Sheppard said both the Pacific and the Caribbean have long agreed that better collaboration is necessary, but concrete action to match the aim has been very limited.

“The MOU will greatly accelerate this process and will enable us to concretely follow up the recommendations of this week’s conference.”

Mr Sheppard said SPREP was honored to be associated with the 5Cs and noted it is the leading organization in the Caribbean region for climate change, and also a major source of policy advice and guidelines to the Caribbean Community and its member states.

The Director said partnership between the two agencies will be greatly strengthened as a result of the MOU signing today, and the people and governments of both organisations stand to benefit a lot from the synergies and cooperation under the agreement.

Meanwhile speaking to Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) News after the signing, the Director General of the 5Cs Dr Kenrick Leslie said the agreement was an important and an exciting one which brings together the Caribbean and the Pacific region.

“SPREP is a much older institution, and it is doing work in certain areas that we are not at this moment and therefore we want to take the advantage of using their expertise in guiding us in areas we are not at the moment and vice versa – we are doing work in certain areas they are not working on, so we can share with them, said Dr Leslie.

Also under the agreement the Caribbean will for the first time have a joint and side event sponsored by SPREP at the upcoming Conference of the Parties dealing with Climate Change meeting later this year in Durban, South Africa.

Dr Leslie says this will give the Caribbean a greater voice at the upcoming Durban conference (United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Durban at the end of the year).

Lead climate change author for small islands, in Samoa

Michael Richards - Senior Journalism Student, Vanuatu Institute of Technology

Professor McLean makes time to talk with Vanuatu Journalism Student Michael Richards
Apia, Samoa - Professor Roger McLean, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lead coordinating author for Small Islands has spent the past week in Apia, Samoa attending the Lessons for future actions meeting.

Just three weeks before he was in Vanuatu to review two major projects on climate change, one being the Pacific sea level and climate monitoring project that deals with tide gages in 12 different Pacific countries.

While in Vanuatu he learnt that language is a very big barrier to communicating climate change issues in small island states.

“Tonga, Cook Islands, Kiribati and some other small island countries have only two languages, English and their own language and very easy for the communication and understanding while it’s harder in Melanesia with the numerous different dialects,” said the IPCC lead coordinating author.

As for the IPCC climate change reports, they have started working on as assessment report which expected to be released in 2014.

“It’s a little early to elaborate on that assessment report but for the small island chapter, the authors who have been appointed are undergoing through the process to get it done and should be ready for the next three years”, he said.

“We have just started the report now, it will go through the assessment of having it reviewed by the experts in a formal review process, then we have to re-write it and then another consultation by the governments and experts before the final report will be accepted.”

Dr McLean is an independent scientist who works with small islands on climate change issues.  He became involved in this field after conducting research with colleagues on Pacific atolls such as Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, as well as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

The IPCC Lead Editor for Small Islands Developing States, Dr Leonard Nurse is also in Samoa for the same meeting.

Turning renewable energy into cash

Clive Hawigen - SPREP

Apia, Samoa - Transforming the energy sector from one that is petroleum dominated and highly inefficient in the use of energy into one that is based on renewable source and used efficiently can become a generator of financial resources to support adaptation. This in turn can be the foundation for sustainable development especially in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

This was argued by Dr Al Binger, science advisor for the Alliance of Small Islands States based in New York, USA in his presentation yesterday at the lessons for future conference at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in Samoa, yesterday. Dr Binger is also the Energy Advisor for Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in Belmopan, Belize.

Dr Al Binger

He said the quality of life in a society is directly proportional to the availability of energy resources and the efficiency in which energy is converted to goods and services.

Dr Binger pointed out that the current energy sector in SIDS has little synergies with other sectors such as agriculture, water, waste management in SIDS.

He also said in excess of 200 million barrels of liquid petroleum are imported by SIDS to provide energy services but this energy is inefficiently used with an estimate of 60% of the total imports wasted.

Dr Binger also stated that SIDS fail to exploit the vast renewable resources found in these island countries.

He gave examples pointing out sugarcane as a potential energy source and the Ocean Thermal Energy Consumption (OTEC), technological system able to provide vast quantities of energy services for SIDS. OTEC that produces energy from the thermal differences between ocean surfaces and deep cold adding that small island states have the best sites to use OTEC

He said: “There is significant uncertainty about the degree of resilience of the current economy to the impacts of Climate Change and therefore the ability of the present economy to continue generating the financial resources to pay for the imports of energy resources to provide energy services for the population and the national economy.”

Dr Binger emphasised that effective adaptation is critical to the provision of sustainable livelihoods and protecting the national economy however he added that effective adaptation would be very difficult without transformation of the energy sector to make significant financial resources available.

He said SIDS livelihood and economy are dependent on environment resources more than any other groups of countries.

“SIDS economies and livelihoods are dependent on very limited number of economic activities and are considered to be the most economically vulnerable of any groups of countries. This vulnerability is being further aggravated by the impacts, changes in weather, changes in marine ecosystem and sea level rise,” said Dr Binger

He concluded by saying: “The best option under these circumstances is to develop vast renewable energy resources that would reduce the cost of energy imports thereby generating financial resources to invest in adaptation.”
Dr Binger said that such an energy sector can generate significant financial resources to support economic development.

“Climate has changed, Climate will continue to change and Climate simply demands change.”

Clive Hawigen - SPREP

Apia, Samoa - “Climate has changed, Climate will continue to change and Climate simply demands change.”
This was emphasised by Dr Michael Taylor, University of West Indies, during the “Lessons for Future Action Conference” held at the Tanoa Tusitala hotel in Apia, Samoa.

Dr Taylor gave a presentation titled “Community perceptions of and responses to climate change and risk” emphasising the importance of science climate change messages.

Dr Michael Taylor

He asked: “what science is needed or must be provided to facilitate information building and awareness building?”

“Any science that enables critical evaluation of the core climate change message is important”.

In his presentation, Dr Taylor outlined the mandate, data priorities, methods and agenda, explaining the importance of historical climate change data, future or projected data and sector relevant data.

“This data is important in measuring patterns of historical variability, new patterns of variability and also linked to the climate sensitive sectors. “

Mr Taylor also pointed out that doing science in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) for SIDS is also a challenge.
JeRome Temengil

JeRome Temengil, climate change coordinator for the Government of Palau, said it is a challenge to communicate science as science itself.

He added that most island communities don’t have names for such terms like climate change but if translated into their own language then the concept of climate change would be understood by the general public.

He said when communicating science we have to talk in a language that is understood by the general public because the science of climate change can be made difficult with the complex jargons and scientific terms that makes it hard for people to grasp the concept.
Mr Temengil pointed out the importance of having indigenous knowledge as part of science communication as well because indigenous knowledge could come up with the right answers to address issues such as climate change.

Your thoughts....

Michiline Time - Senior Journalism Student, National University of Samoa

What are the climate change capacity needs in your country?  How are these gaps affecting your response to climate change impacts?

"In Belize we have a lot of organisations who work with climate change but there’s no specific climate change office, so what the government has done is they used government departments and other organisations to try to deal with it but the real adaptation will probably come from their National Emergency Management Organisation which is more disastrous response. So what we need to do is get more individuals and institutions to build their capacity in climate change adaptation and mitigation and get more ideas on how we can get these adaptation strategies implemented to the government.”
Colin Gillett – Belize

“For me I’m in the NGO sector, I think there’s a need to build the capacity of individuals and communities in terms of understanding climate change and it’s impacts but also understanding some of the appropriate options and solutions to address to help them cope well with the climate change impacts in their community. I think at the institutional level, there is also a need to build capacity on technical understanding of some information required for better understanding of solutions. We often rush into doing things because we are desperate to solve the problem and yet we don’t fully understand the problem well enough to get the correct solutions and as a result we often waste investment.
Our strategy is to start looking internally from what we have and build from there. There's great potential in all our countries that we can do something instead of just waiting for outside help but of course we can’t do it alone, we also need to build partnership with other countries and other international development partners and donors.”
Sione Fakaosi – Tonga

“Food security production issue is a project under what we call PACC [Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change]. It is in reality, since 80% of our food supplies are actually imported. We are almost dependant in a way so the project is trying to bring people back to depend more often on their own local supplies. It’s only been a year and we’re seeing some improvement but there’s a huge work that has to be done.”
Jerome Temengil – Palau

“I say the most immediate one is for our vulnerable sectors of health, tourism, agricultural and water to be better mobilised to respond to the impacts of climate change. I think there needs to be a greater understanding of the impacts that climate change will have on Jamaica and that will bring about more workshops - more technical knowledge, more research and facilitating the research and the science to be shared with the vulnerable sectors.”
Indi Mclymont-Lafayette - Jamaica

Grenada has just established a Ministry of Environment so obviously our capacity needs will be more than the average ministry. Climate change cannot be looked at from the point of view of a single ministry, it is cross-sectoral and therefore if we need capacity to address the needs of climate change it has to be cross-sectoral in all the ministries. As a first step the government of Grenada has establish its cabinet sub-committees on climate change so we’ll have a political level at the decision making level, a body and then we just re-established the climate change committee obviously the needs will be immense. We need human resource capacity for all of the cross-sectoral ministries. We are also looking at institutional capacity building for a few of our organisations and to look at best practices within the country and outside the country and then there’s also the infrastructural capacity needs of the country which is really the most important because as we are low lying island states that are vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters like climate change. At the moment we have not attract much funding to address all capacity needs and the budget of the local government is limited so there are significant gaps in what we should be doing as capacity needs.”
Sally Anne Bagwhan Logie – Grenada (Caribbean)

News Bulletins: Tuesday and Wednesday 24 and 25 May 2011



Lessons for Future Action: Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Lessons Learned Conference, Apia, Samoa


Lessons for Future Action: Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Lessons Learned Conference, Apia, Samoa

Lessons for Future Action Conference 23-26 May 2011, Samoa

The four day conference has brought together practitioners, policy makers and researchers from the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the West Indian Ocean to examine how lessons learned today can inform climate change adaptation and future disaster risk management in Small Island Developing States.

The following information is coverage of presentations publicized from the first three days of the conference.

Click on the highlight text to view the presentations.

1. Information and Awareness Raising
Chair: Roger McLean, IPCC Lead Coordinating Author, Small Islands
Topics of presentations:

- Awareness raising – understanding the risk
-  Community perceptions of and responses to climate change and risk
- Baseline data needs – what we need to attribute climate change
- Underpinning science and modeling tools
- Communicating the science

2. National Planning and Policy Frameworks
Chair: David Sheppard, Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme [SPREP]

Topics of presentations:

International and regional frameworks, national policy and planning frameworks
 - Do national policy and planning frameworks meet emerging   needs?
 - Developing nationally relevant policy frameworks for CCA and  DRR
 - What role does CCA and DRR play in core policy development?

DRR and CCA synergies and opportunities at the national level

- What have we learned from joint national planning?

3. Community Based Responses to CCA and DRR
Chair: Frank Wickham, Solomon Islands
Topics of presentations:

Application of demand driven and bottom up experience and planning

Sustainable development and building resilience for DRR and CCA (including adaptive capacity and traditional responses)

DDR and CCA synergies and opportunities at the local level (including lessons learned from joint national planning)
Linking national planning to local and sub-national levels
-          Scaling up to national, regional and global support
-       Sustainability considerations of CCA and DRR

Strengthening Adaptive Capacity in Choiseul, Solomon Islands, Robyn James

 4. Strategies and On-Ground Options
Chair: Leonard Nurse, IPCC Lead Editor for SIDS
Topics of presentations:

What works on the ground
-  Effective adaptation options – what’s the best way to provide support?
 - Sectoral approaches to risk management
 - Adaptation/Renewable energy                    opportunities
 -  Actual experiences with CCA and DRR – challenges and opportunities

What combination of CCA and DRR deliver the most benefits?  (public/private partnerships, those that integrate DRR, CCA and economic development, community involvement)

5. Capacity Development
Chair: Edward Green, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre
Topics of presentations:

What is capacity development and how is it best developed?

Regional responses and needs of the smallest countries

Developing business plans and project proposals

Accessing resources

6.  Lessons for Future Action
Chair: Rob Kay,  Coastal Zone Management (Australia)

Climate change education at work in the Seychelles

By Mona Ainu’u – Broadcasting Corporation of Niue

Apia, Samoa - One of the smallest groups of climate change victims lies in the Indian Oceans to the East Coast of the African Continent and to the South of both India and the Maldives.

The Seychelles, an archipelago consisting of over 100 islands, is also finding it difficult to address climate change. With challenges such as limited resources and piracy, they too face a similar fate with those in other Small Island Developing States.

Ms. Jeannette Larue, Director General Public education and community outreach division of the Department of Environment in the Seychelles said her country continues to support initiatives and the drive by the Small Island Developing States to tackle issues with climate change.

“When we work together, when we keep networking, we come a little closer. We are still working together to find the means and ways”.

The difficulties the Seychelles faces cannot be addressed with larger countries.

“We do a lot of workshops in the African region but to be frank, the small islands are lost in those meetings because our priorities are not the same as the African countries. They talk about deforestation, drought, poverty reduction in regards to climate change and this is top priority for them, where sea level rise is not priority for them”.

In the Seychelles, the bottom up approach is continuing with initiatives introduced into the Education sector. There is a lot of capacity building and education awareness on climate change done in schools, working with school children to help share information.

“Climate change education has become quite a priority in the school program. We have a unit for environment education and for the past five years and the next five years climate change is the first top priority for the unit. We educate our children and they take it back home. We notice in Seychelles its very effective using the children to bring the message back home, but we also use a lot of media to educate the people.”

In adding to the difficulties in the Seychelles, not only accessing finance contributes to the challenges but conflicts with receiving those resources are also a factor.

The Seychelles were represented at the Lessons for Future Action conference on climate change in Apia, Samoa 23 - 26 May, 2011.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Observations on change, disruptions and challenges in capacity development

By Rosalie Nongebatu - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

Apia, Samoa - Climate Change comes with all kinds of capacity development challenges for small island developing states.

These challenges include new opportunities, knowledge and information, roles, responsibilities, partnership and new costs that come at an accelerating pace under projects with limited time frames.

This is based on observations made by Solomon Islands’ Frank Wickham at the Capacity Development Session this morning at the Lessons for Future Action Conference in Apia Samoa.

Frank Wickham, Solomon Islands
Mr Wickham said these new challenges demand change which in turn disrupts national programming and work plans, resource allocation, people’s time, national and local priorities and also national and local capacity.

According to Mr Wickham’s experiences in the Solomon Islands and the pacific region, projects which are now the main vehicles for dealing with climate change have an impact on the core budget of the government, non government organisations, and community organisations.

Some of the suggestions on how best to deal with these challenges include the strengthening of Human Resource Management Systems, longer time frames for projects, donor projects to include budgets, intervention and resources, and the development of a programmatic approach to address climate change.

Meanwhile commenting on capacity development, Dr Padma Lal of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Oceania Office said scientific assessments in term of climate science is valuable, but unless it is translated into the human well being and impacts, adaptation strategies many not meet the needs and aspirations of the communities.

On the capacity building assessments undertaken in the region, the Dean of Faculty of Science at the University of Papua New Guinea, Dr Frank Griffin questioned assessments on the regional, national and local level on capacity building, and what became of these assessments.

“We keep talking about capacity building, but what becomes of these assessments that have been undertaken? Quite a number of issues have been raised in these assessments and capacity gaps identified. The identified capacity gaps should be addressed and I think that is where the missing link is”.

“Some of these actions do not need extensive scientific knowledge - people or communities just need to be taught the methodology on how to do things such as sea grass assessments and the planting of mangroves, but that sort of action only happens in some countries that have institutions who are on the ground for a very long time.

Many of the activities we know about in terms of capacity building involve consultants or research groups who come into the countries down to the community level for a very short period of time and then leave again without leaving much behind, and in my view if we are talking about frontline climate change adaptation, those are the things that need to be attended to,” said Dr Griffin.

FSM includes climate change in national environment law

Mona Ainu'u - Broadcasting Corporation of Niue

Apia, Samoa - The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has legislation in place that addresses climate change to help them address the effects in a faster and effective manner. It is planned this will help them strengthen their plans of progress when it comes to response and adaptation measures.

“As part of mainstreaming we are fortunate to have our climate change policy signed by FSM president back in 2009, we then worked with the legislator to push the legislation, incorporating climate change into the environmental law,” said Simpson Abraham, the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Coordinator of FSM.

Simpson Abraham, FSM
Understanding the impacts of climate change and disaster risk reduction, Abraham is pleased with steps taken by his government and shared the experiences of FSM with participants at the “Lessons for future action conference” this week in Apia, Samoa.

“We still work with policy makers and try to explain the concept of climate change to our people. We have to incorporate all the information that people can easily understand in order to accept these policies”.

Using environmental assessments done in previous years with a focus on coastal responses to climate change and working with an adaptation program on sea level rise is another useful way of utilising existing investments and work.

“Locals should have practical hands on experience when it comes to modelling tools. We would like to build the capacity within our islands, so we do not keep bringing people from outside to do the job.

We need to convert science for locals to understand”.

In ending his presentation, Abraham asked everyone to be on the same agenda when it comes to climate change and to unite, speak the one language and forge ahead.

Adaptation and climate smart planning

Rosalie Nongebatu - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

Monifa Fiu, WWF
Apia, Samoa - A conservationist from WWF has highlighted the importance for policy makers, national governments and non government organisations to clearly map out the distinction and the relation between Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management.

Fijian based WWF South Pacific Program Officer Monifa Fiu made a presentation at the “Lessons for Future Action” conference in Apia this week.

“Climate smart planning under joint national planning enables the development of a joint national action plan for Disaster Risk Management and Climate change Adaptation.

“National consultations enable policy managers to connect and make the distinction between the legislation, polices at the international level and how it fits into their national commitments, non government organisations and other partners or agencies involved”.

She also referred to Fiji saying there has been unprecedented level of climate change and disaster risk management engagements on all sectors including the political, provincial, inter island and district levels.

Indi Mclymon, PANOS
She also raised the need for rapid information sharing between policy makers, and the communities under different sectors, adding the gap between the sectors on climate change was too big.
Talking on the same theme, was Indi Mclymont from PANOS, (a non government organisation in the Caribbean which focuses on communication for development) who described communication as one of the under utilised tools which can make a big difference in linking from national to international and regional levels, when used correctly.

Successful examples of work done by PANOS in the Caribbean includes working with journalists on raising awareness, music artists through popular songs which carried strong messages of climate change and a whole lot of other projects involving communication.

She also described the various challenges faced by the pacific in terms of community based responses to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction similar to the challenges the Caribbean is currently faced with.

Your thoughts...

Michiline Time - Senior Journalism Student, National University of Samoa

What lessons have you learnt from this conference for future action?

“The important thing for me, from the Ministry of Affairs at Lucia, one of our task is to deal with the donors and one of the lessons I learned here in the Pacific is their approach to donor funding, it’s a little different from ours, they are actually able to capitalise donor support by allocating specific resources to specific individuals who just pretty much write proposals towards to donor agencies.  In the Caribbean it’s a little different; we have our unit to allocate a specific resource just to proposal writing.  For example, here in Samoa, there’s an individual whose responsibility is to write proposals and because of that Samoa now has been enjoying a lot of more donor aid because they have the expertise in that area. That is one of the things I’m going to take back to St. Lucia, to try and  implement that in our institutional structures.  Because of our small capacity we tend to have people doing multiple tasks but if we concentrate, at least one individual, two or three concentrates solely on writing these proposals - truly donor agencies will be able to bring in more donors support to our country so that’s one of the important lesson that I learned and I’m definitely taking it back.”
Kimberly Louis – St Lucia (Caribbean)

“Of course all the themes has been discussed  and they are all relevant but what’s really required from a very small island perspective like Tuvalu, of course there are numbers of studies and assessments some capacity building exercises going on at the moment so what’s highly required now is to do something on the ground and I think that we need to discuss that more. We are now facing  the problems  - coastal erosion, problems with storm surges and hurricanes etc. so from the perspective of communities at a very low level they need something that’s concrete to be constructed and established rather than just talking and talking. To apply all that has been discussed here, I think the best way is to convene a workshop or consultation with communities, letting them know all this situations or what has been practiced in the Caribbean, in India oceans and in some of the Pacific countries and then try to adapt them to our policies or action plans.”
Mataio Tekinene – Tuvalu

“There have been a lot of issues discussed, some every important issues but one of the things that I would like to explore with my team here in the meeting is the possibility of exploring other renewable energy resources especially based on the presentation that was done by the Caribbean. What we will probably do  is conduct a sustainability assessment on some of the other alternative renewable energy resources around the country to help us with medication aspects. I could learn more from the Caribbean on especially how they build adapted capacity around some of these vulnerable sectors. We have NAPA [National Adaptation Programmes of Action], they are in place of what we need to do is source other available funds either through the adaptation fund which is something that we need to do. One other thing that we will do is request UNDP to help us source adaptation funds.”
Albert Williams – Vanuatu

"My response is that there is still a tremendous a lot of work to be done in small islands. We recognise our vulnerability, recognise the fact that the rest of the world does not appear to be as concerned as we are about the risk that we are facing, the destruction that it has caused, devastation of lives, our economies and services have been affected.  We know that there’s a lot that we have to do, so what is clear and what has come up at this conference is that we need money to support the work that we need to do to adapt to the impacts of climate change.  Every single fabric of our existence is affected by the potential impacts either ongoing, recent experiences of potential future impacts of climate change. There’s no getting away from the fact that, we must find some ways some needs of addressing those issues if we are to survive small islands in the global environment. One thing has come up very clearly is that we have some of the answers, we recognise the importance and need for science in doing this, recognise the need for getting the science to inform us of some actions that we need to take but that is not enough.  We need the support of the outside world with the resources and finances to make meaningful change. Small amounts of money cannot go far enough into securing the kinds of impacts we want, we want long term impacts, and we need to know that 30 years down the road the actions we take today are beneficial to us. A lot of work has to be done.”
Keith Nichols – OECS [St Lucia]

“From this conference, I’ve learned a lot from different countries that they want to come up with common ideas that will help our community to understand background of climate change and how to help each other and how to adapt to changes so this is a very important lesson for me. Every year we’re concerned about our people and our country - that’s what I want to take with me. That’s how we connect with our people with this very important issue of climate change. We have our own traditional way of dealing with the communities and to just take this outline, at the end of this conference I will see what can work in our comunities.”
Claire Anterea – Kiribati

“I think the conference really pressed upon the needs to consider local ownership, communities and engages communities fully when designing climate change adaptation and disastrous reduction programs. This is certainly developing, for AusAid we designed a new Pacific Regional Disastrous Management Program which we will definitely try and engage to use climate change adaptation and make sure that is a part of the program. The other aspect would be is really understanding the local context as well. I think one of the presentations this morning pointed to the diversity between the Islands and making sure that we really understand the different context. We’ll certainly be focusing on making sure we’re consulting fully with local community and recognising the different context of different Pacific Islands as we go through the design process and also in implementation.”
Rebecca McClean – AusAID Suva