Tuesday 24 May 2011

Climate change policy planning in the Pacific

Mona Ainu'u - Broadcasting Corporation of Niue

23 May 2011, Apia, Samoa - National planning and policy frameworks will not work unless, linkages are established and effective approaches taken, according to panellists of climate change strategic planners and policy makers at the "Lessons Learned for Future Action" conference.

For the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) it can be a challenge to gain momentum following policies and national planning.  The need to produce policies is neccessary, but they must also be effectively implemented, national planning is important to construct a robust document for all sectors to follow and sustain.

Albert Williams, Vanuatu

“There is a need for government support as well as donor funding for activities on climate change”, said Albert Williams of Vanuatu.

Plans and policies need funding to implement, there has been an urgent call from all Small Islands Developing States for donor agencies to fast track and accelerate funding.  Without the funds, implementation of national plans and policy frameworks is difficult.

Then there is also the issue of 'over-consultation' and too many policies, as pointed out by Sione Fulivai, the Second National Communication Project Officer from Tonga.

“For some communities at grassroots level, there are too many policies for consultation and not enough action taken to progress ahead and mobilising people can be a challenge."

One clear message from this afternoons meeting, is that there is a need to collaboratively engage all parties if there is to be an effective future policy to address real Climate Change issues in Small Island States.

It is a huge task to confront to make sure each policy remains neutral and that all parties are considered.  There is a fundamental obligation to clearly strategise and clarify plans so they are effective and without prejudice.

For the Carribean countries, Dr. Kenrick Lesliehead of the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (5Cs), emphasised their regional need to establish an institution to address the real problem of climate change with positive results.

“The heads of Carribean countries in 2007 asked the centre to put together a framework that would address the issues of climate change and help us in our development that will be resilient to the impacts.  The heads approved this in 2009 and we are now in the process of putting together the implementation plan of that framework.  So you can see that has regional but has in its component at the national level”.

The approach by the Carribean countries to combine efforts in strengthening its resilient policies, was applauded by other SIDS with an encouraging message to review their own approach.

Sharing climate science in the media

By Rosalie Nongebatu - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

23 May Apia, Samoa - Delegates at the Lessons for Future Action Conference have been reminded of the importance of communicating the Science of Climate in a manner that is culturally considerate and locally relevant.

This was one of the challenges in Communicating Climate Science put forward by the Pacific Climate Change Editor Cherelle Jackson during her presentation under the Information and Awareness Raising Session this morning.

Another challenge Ms Jackson pointed out included the lack of knowledge and background in Science by pacific journalists, who usually learn on the job before communicating the information to the community.

“We have to teach and understand the science of climate change and then relate this to our audiences.”

Ms Jackson says although outreach programs and awareness campaigns are of great value to personally communicating the science, the most effective avenue would be the mass media whether it be radio, television, online or newspapers.

According to a study carried out by Ms Jackson at the Oxford University on climate change journalism in the pacific, weddings and food were mostly reported on while climate change and the environment were not a priority. Ms Jackson’s survey was carried out in newspapers produced across five of the pacific island countries.

“This was a curious finding, although unsurprising, as you would think climate change would be a priority issue for pacific island newspapers seeing that they are experiencing first and worst some of the impacts of climate change and you would think their audiences would be interested in the issue.”

Ms Jackson also attributed the low numbers of communicating climate science to three challenges which included the lack of science knowledge by journalists, the need for scientists to communicate information clearly to the media and the lack of access to climate change resources in pacific island countries.

She also quoted a study done by anthropologist Dr Peter Rudiak-Gould on the changing behaviour of the people of Marshall Islands towards climate change as saying that concern for climate change isn’t automatic, even for those in the highly vulnerable areas.

She said according to the research, foreign educators can help by teaching people about the science of climate change but only local educators can help people make sense of the issue in terms of local concerns such as loss of tradition.

Ms Jackson also made a few suggestions when communicating science which include simplifying the science for non specialists to understand, but not to point of irrelavance and not to use jargon.

She also suggested scientists to localise, and humanise the information so that people could understand better.

Communicating climate change

By Rosalie Nongebatu, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

23 May 2011, Apia, Samoa - Various presentations this morning on information and awareness-raising on the science of climate change at the Lessons for Future Action Conference, in Apia, Samoa, have pointed to the challenge of understanding the science of climate change and of actually getting the information to the community or to those affected.

Four speakers made presentations under the topic of information and awareness which looked at; awareness raising- understanding the risk; community perceptions of and responses to climate change and risk; baseline data needs - what is needed to attribute climate change; underpinning science and modelling tools; and communicating the science.

The awareness raising – understanding the risk was presented by Doctor Leonard Nurse an IPCC Lead Editor for the Small Islands Developing States from the University of West Indies in Barbados. He likened attribution, to any science process that identifies and seeks to account for the key factors that explain the observed climate change conditions.

Dr Leonard Nurse, IPCC Lead Editor for SIDS
Dr Nurse also spoke of the need to use available data to fill in the gaps that countries have in terms of climate change science.

The community perceptions of and responses to climate change and risk presentation was presented by Michael Taylor, from the Jamaican campus of the University of the West Indies who said it was interesting to note, particularly for the Caribbean, that 10 years after beginning to seriously consider climate change, a couple of things have changed.

“Certainly at the beginning, it seemed that the science was driving the information and awareness building, so whatever the science did, that came out as information. But ten years later, it’s almost the reverse – the desire for more and more information to facilitate information building is driving the science.”

Mr Taylor said the science needed, by looking at past lessons, is in fact any science that will support the key messages of climate change that have emerged.

Dr Michael Taylor, University of West Indies
“Whatever the science that is needed to critically evaluate those key messages – that’s the science that we need to build to underpin information and awareness building.

Meanwhile the Pacific Climate Change Editor Cherelle Jackson in her presentation said the biggest issue in communicating the science is that those who have the knowledge do not necessarily know how to communicate it to those who do not possess the knowledge, for example information from the scientists to the farmer or to primary school students.

Ms Jackson also spoke of the huge divide currently in the pacific between those in the know of climate change and those who don’t.

“The risk of this divide is that it leads to assumptions about climate change, that more often that are preposterous theories and linkages that have no scientific basis.”

The conference, which opened this morning in Apia, Samoa has around 140 participants from the pacific, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and other parts of the world who will be looking at how lessons learned can inform future climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in small island developing states, over the next three days.

The meeting is a partnership between the Australia Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency AusAid and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). It is hosted in Samoa from 23 to 25 May.


Team of four Jamaicans in Samoa to share lessons learnt on Climate change

By Andrea Downer, Journalist

Dr Michael Taylor, University of the West Indies

Kingston, Jamaica. May 23, 2011 - Four Jamaicans – Dr Michael Taylor from the University of the West Indies, Claire Bernard from the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Indi Mclymont-Lafayette from Panos Caribbean and Risk Reduction Specialist Franklin McDonald, are among more than128 experts from the Pacific and the Caribbean, attending a four day climate change conference in Apia, Samoa.
The conference, titled Lessons for Future Action, will focus on lessons learnt that can inform future climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in small island developing states. It kicks off on Monday, May 23 and will run until Thursday May 26, 2011.

Mclymont-Lafayette, who will make a presentation on day two on Community-Based Responses to Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction says the conference is a good opportunity for the mutual sharing of climate change adaptation strategies and best practice between the Caribbean and the Pacific.

"This is a good opportunity for the Caribbean islands to work with the Pacific islands to see how together we can share information and ways to adapt to climate change. The conference will share information learned from the Pacific and the Caribbean and then decide how we can jointly tackle the impacts of climate change," said Mclymont-Lafayette stated shortly before leaving Jamaica for Samoa. She is the Regional Director of Media, Community and environment at Panos Caribbean – a regional information agency.

McDonald will also make a presentation at the conference as part of a panel on National Planning and Policy Frameworks towards the end of day one on Monday, May 23rd. Dr Taylor of the University of the West Indies Climate Change Studies Group will present on Underpinning science and modelling tools. In turn Claire Bernard from Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), presents on Regional responses and needs of smallest countries on Wednesday.

The Conference is being organised by the Australian Government and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme. It aims to share and synthesise lessons learned in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean countries, as well as drawing on experience in Australia and elsewhere. The conference will bring together delegates from partner countries, regional and multilateral agencies, donors and non-government organisations with extensive experience and understanding of adaptation issues.

“A key challenge for development in small islands today is reducing poverty and building resilience in a current climate of considerable variability and all too frequent natural disasters. Climate change will increase the urgency of these challenges – making sustainable development more difficult. Effective adaptation and disaster risk reduction will help small islands meet these development challenges in a changing climate,” the conference organizers said in a release.

The conference will focus on lessons that can assist the countries participating to sustain development gains and respond to disasters in the changing climate the world is expected to face in 2030 or 2050.

The conference will consider Small Island Developing States (SIDS) experience and lessons that exist among the islands in reducing the risks of natural disasters and early adaptation measures, the implications of ‘tipping points’ for natural systems, such as coral reefs and the iterative nature of adaptation which will require `learning by doing’ and flexible approaches as understanding of the likely timing and magnitude of climate change impacts improves.

Other best practices that will be shared and discussed include the risks of mal-adaptation and the need for monitoring and assessment of adaptation responses so adjustments can be made over time, common themes and challenges, and examples of good and not-so-good practice emerging from early adaptation activities, including community based adaptation, and what is needed to effectively communicate climate change to a variety of stakeholders.

The outcomes of the conference will help inform national and regional policies, increase donor support and identify how best to address the needs of SIDS in terms of adaptation support and funding. (End23/05/11)

The article  is a production distributed through Panoscope, a series of Panos Caribbean. It is made freely available to your media and we encourage publishing and redistribution, giving credit to Panos Caribbean. We appreciate feedback.

For further information contact: Indi Mclymont/Jan Voordouw, Panos Caribbean.

Tel: 920-0070-1, E-mail: jamaica@panoscaribbean.org

Pacific Climate Change: thoughts in general

By Michael Richard, Senior Journalism Student, Vanuatu Institute of Technology
23 May 2011

"Climate change should be taken seriously by countries, especially in the pacific region because it’s impacting on the present generation as well as the future generation. Climate change is a continuous thing and we must take actions, so that our children will have a safe environment. The way to address climate change will be involving partner countries, neighbours to co-operate together.

Even though climate change affects more on small Islands countries, where greenhouse gases been contributed by large Industrialised countries, we believe those Industrialisef countries also need to co-operate with small countries and bring about HOPE for the future.

We need co-operation amongst organisations, individuals and the sharing of information; it’s not enough to have scientific information in libraries. We need to communicate this information through extension services [agricultural]. We need to think of other ways not to ruin our environment to make sure that climate change is controlled and adapt to this climate changes.”

Ekpo Ossom, University of the South Pacific Alafua Campus, Samoa

"We would like to learn from these experiences and share it with our community.

I think it’s quite appropriate with most of its adaptation activities, what they try to link it with disaster risks production that they’re planning. It’s appropriate also that they get to share their experiences on developments and progress with us.

I think what is happening in the conference this week, is the correct method of addressing the climate change in the Pacific Island Nations to gather together and to explore how to plan our goals towards the national planning of the disaster risk management."

Andrew Tukana, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Land Resources Division, Fiji

“Who do you think should be the key audience for climate change information and why?”

Michiline Time, Senior Journalism Student, National University of Samoa
23 May 2011, Apia, Samoa

“Now, there are two levels of key audience, one level is the policy makers and the other level is those at the grass root level as what the policy makers put into place effects those at the grass roots level. In the future, the key audience will be the school children, our next generations.”

Dr Graeme Sem – Climate change consultant

“The Governments and the message for them is to get the policies right as they set the direction for all climate change projects. General public is an important audience as what is done at the government level must have ownership at the community level. It is important that you know your audience in communicating climate change.”

Dr Frank Griffin – Papua New Guinea

“The community level is the key audience as they are the ones being affected in terms of the food they eat and where they live.”

Mii Matamaki – Cook Islands

“I think it will be the people right at the community level, where there’s a lot of confusion about what climate change is causing. Climate change is sort of distinguishing changes in our environment. As technical people sometimes concepts is hard enough for us to understand them, so they’re [community level] the ones who really need that information.”

Emmajil Bogari-Ahai – Papua New Guinea

Climate Change Lessons Learnt for Future Action Conference

Mona Ainu'u - Broadcasting Corporation of Niue

23 May 2011, Apia, Samoa - The start of the “Lessons for Future Action Conference” in Apia today heightened the urgency to address issues of climate change adaptation and future decisions affecting Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The threat of natural disasters is becoming increasingly clear both in terms of their impact on SIDS, and of their personal vulnerability. A strong message during the opening ceremony was the need for immediate action, in cooperation with others, as we cannot do it alone.

Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

The Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, opened today’s conference calling upon participants to share the lessons learnt so we can strategise for a better future in the face of climate change.

“What is needed now in the pacific and elsewhere is more climate change project implementation, and this is the single most important action for the future, I will urge you therefore as stakeholders of climate change and disaster risk management to share the lessons learned to date”.

The issue of partnership was echoed by Mr. David Sheppard, Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). He shared SPREP’s continuing focus of strengthening partnerships and the critical need to work together without competition or duplication.
Mr David Sheppard, Director of SPREP

“We have limited resources and capacity, so let’s work together and better utilize resources and avenues that have been established-both within and between our regions”.

“While there are differences between and within regions in terms of size, capacity, levels of development and geography, I have always been impressed by the level of solidarity and cooperation that exist between small island states. This is exemplified by the work of the Alliance of Small Island States, AOSIS”.

The Prime Minister of Samoa also reiterated the support the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) needs from the international audience.

“One of the biggest challenges as you all know has been to get the voice of Alliance of Small Islands States member countries heard. We collectively want a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 based on 1990 levels. I think we may now have the man power and the skills to fund the determination and the technological means to achieve this”.
James Bartley, Deputy Director General of AUSAID
James Bartley, Deputy Director General of AUSAID acknowledged the importance of productive means to assist the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

“The issue is not simply one of the amount of resources available to address climate change around the world, there‘s a real issue of how effectively those resources are used most efficiently, most productively and indeed in ways that are not counterproductive”.

Over the next four days participants will deliberate over a range of different issues including capacity development, strategies and on-ground options, community based responses to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction as well as information and awareness raising. By sharing the lessons learnt in these areas during panel discussions and presentations, it is hoped a path forward will be forged.
The meeting is a partnership between the Australia Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency AusAid and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). It is hosted in Samoa from 23 to 25 May.