Wednesday, 25 May 2011

CARIBBEAN-ENVIRONMENT-Official wants closer collaboration between Pacific and Caribbean

by Ernie Seon - Caribbean Media Corporation

Apia, SAMOA – A four-day conference on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in Small Island Development States (SIDS) opened here late on Monday with a call for stakeholders in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean to work together in support of national priorities since there was “no room for competition and duplication”.

 “The Lessons for Future Action Conference” will allow delegates to share experiences and lessons learnt in relation to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction among SIDS drawing on experiences from Australia and other countries.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Director of the Secretariat of the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) David Sheppard called for collaboration between the Caribbean and Pacific regions and announced plans for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) this week with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC).

“This we think represents a major step towards better information sharing and practical cooperation between the Pacific and the Caribbean,” he said, noting that Pacific leaders have identified climate change as the biggest challenge facing their region.

Sheppard said that the magnitude of the challenge “we face and the need for urgent action is also underlined in a major report released Monday by the Australian Climate Commission”.

He said that the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan following so closely after the earthquake in New Zealand “remind us again of the power of nature and the vulnerability of Pacific nations to climate change and to natural disasters.

“Small island developing countries both here and in the Caribbean are the most vulnerable on earth to the impacts of climate change,” he told the ceremony.

“We therefore urge all donors to accelerate efforts to support small island developing countries and to meet commitments under the Copenhagen Accord and the associated Fast Start mechanism,” he added.

The conference is co-hosted by Australia and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme and is funded by the Australian government, through the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the Australian Agency for International Development.

The Caribbean’s delegation includes experts from the University of the West Indies (UWI), the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the Belize Red Cross.

The meeting will discuss a wide range of topics including information and awareness raising; national planning and policy frameworks; community-based response to climate change and disaster risk reduction and strategies and on-ground options.

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