Wednesday 25 May 2011

Nature Conservancy's adaptation project in Choiseul, Solomon Islands

Rosalie Nongebatu - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

Apia, Samoa - Traditional institutions are vital in the governance of natural cultural resources when it comes to implementing community-based responses to Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management, particularly in the pacific, where most of the land or islands are under customary land ownership.

Robin James, The Nature Conservancy

Robin James of The Nature Conservancy Organization was speaking this morning at the Lessons for Future Action Conference on the organization’s experiences on a particular project being run in Choiseul Province in the North-Western region of the Solomon Islands.

Ms James says Chiefs and traditional leaders from across the island gathered in the provincial capital, taro, in 2008 for the Lauru Land Conference and Tribal Community where they declared a system of protected areas, both marine and terrestrial areas over the whole island of Choiseul.

She says the arrangement has been developed since over the years with participation from the community level.

“In February this year the TNC undertook a number of participatory activities in a small community in the province known as Mboemboe, to understand what this would look like and further visualise what the protected networks are and also in the context of climate change for the whole island”.

The number of participatory tools implemented with partners consisted of household surveys, participatory videos where members of the communities were given videos to film their own experiences in climate change and also development of conservation issues in the community.

“Household surveys were done to understand the economics of climate change, the costs, the current status and what those future costs would be, making it a major economic component of the project .”

The project also had a participatory 3 dimensional modeling focus which combines local spatial knowledge, mind maps of familiar settings, at the same time combining the scientific component of GIS.

The participatory 3D modeling (P3DM) involved more half of the community, including women and children and combined community mapping with open discussions on land-use and land-use planning scenarios.

During a ten day P3DM exercise, participants helped construct a physical, hands-on scale model made of wood-and paper model of their community, led by an expert in P3DM from the University of Wollongong and the University of Queensland with Melanesians.

Many people were involved in these activities from community members, government, local and regional TNC staff, scientists, local NGOs as well as partners from other parts of Melanesia.

She said It is anticipated that by 2012 every community in Choiseul should have a plan that includes adaptation and should have begun an initial set of activities.

According to Ms James’ presentation, lessons learned from these activities will be spread by participants and through visual outputs such as video to inform future work in Melanesia and Micronesia and elsewhere in the Pacific.

Pacific Conference of Churches pilot climate change project

Moana Ainu'u - Niue Broadcasting Corporation

Apia, Samoa - The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) piloted a disaster risk reduction approach called Climate Intervene and Disaster Risk to assist its church communities to become proactive in addressing the changes in their physical environment.

This project introduced in five countries in the Pacific – Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu is aimed at empowering Pacific People to rethink their strategies, and adopt realistic adaptation and risk reduction methods.

Reverend Ikani Taliai Tolu

“Through its methodology, the PCC employs the notion that climate impact and risk assessment is the first step at identification of areas threatened by disasters especially the vulnerable to climate change,” said Reverend Ikani Taliai Tolu, during a presentation at the Lessons Learnt for Future Action conference in Samoa.
His belief is that a hazard only becomes a disaster when the community is not able to cope with it.

“The findings from the five pilot countries demonstrated to us that although communities adaptation strategies may be varied and depend on local context, social networks play a pivotal role in accessing appropriate climate knowledge and resources”.

A tailor made plan for communities or individual needs must find its place and the justification will become apparent when risk reduction measures are recognised.

The Pacific Conference of Churches has one hundred different religious denomination members from 18 countries, one of the biggest religious establishments of the region. It views climate change as an injustice that continues to affect the most vulnerable.

“As we may all appreciate climate change is an issue of justice, because those who have least contributed to this global problem, and have the least capacity to adapt, stand to lose the most, and in certain cases lose entire island communities from rising sea levels that have been aggravated further by frequent and stronger storm surface”.

Faced with unprovoked injustices, people of the pacific must adjust and continue the road of adaptation, he said.

Your thoughts...

Michiline Time - Senior Journalism Student, National University of Samoa

What are your views on the thought that there is too much focus on climate change policies by governments and not enough climate change action on the ground?
“I would certainly agree, I think that it’s very difficult to transpose government policies into actions on the ground particularly in the Pacific where there are many Islands, particularly a lot of outer Islands, very isolated.   I think the way forward for increasing more actions on the ground is to provide support to provincial governments, NGOs and people that are working directly with communities, that’s definitely an important area to move forward into.”
Olivia Warrick

“In a lot of countries it’s true that there’s a lot of work and climate financing going into policy development and very little funds are flowing down to the communities, to actually address concrete adaptation issues that would build community resilience to climate and sea level change. A lot of times money is spent on developing policies and strategies and  unfortunately nothing is done on the ground but again it depends a lot on how pacific island countries set up their climate change national institutional arrangements.  If you have a strong national climate change institutional arrangement, that has oversight on all climate change activities at the national level then you are able to have a mechanism where decisions can be made at a higher level to ensure that a bigger potion of financing is actually translated into adaptation projects on the ground, that builds community capacity to adapt to climate and sea level change.  Also that sort of institutional arrangement will ensure that vulnerability assessments or vulnerability work that has already been done is not duplicated or repeated but is used as basis to mobilise funds and translate these assessments that have been sitting  in a lot of  government offices into actual project on the ground to help build communities resilience.”
Brian Phillips - Vanuatu

"You need to raise the communities as they are the ones who are feeling the brunt of climate change impacts and for them to take action they need to know actively what is the science, how does the impact will take place and what actions are needed.  These actions can be explained to them through some simple information sheets like that one that USP has recently published and released, a series of fact sheets on some information that will be useful to take it to the communities so they are aware of what  the issues are, what  the concerns are and how they can do it.   This is taking time but ultimately it will succeed, the communities have to be made aware of this and raise their capacity so they can cope with the oncoming threats of climate change."
Professor Murari Lal, University of the South Pacific

The communities are right in sense that they say that there are a lot of government policies.  I think personally it’s not a question of policy per say.  The policies that the government have ensure that there is disaster risk reduction at the community level as well as ensuring that the climate change cause is built up, so it’s more of a question of interpretation.   It’s not that the government does not want to do anything.  I feel personally it’s just that they lack the capacity of how to go about implementing projects.   There is a lot of international funding that has come up over the years related to climate change adaptation but one thing that keeps coming up again and again when I talk to different government agencies in different countries is that they really don’t have the capacity, so it’s not that the government doesn’t want to implement or a question of policy, for me it’s a question of capacity development of the government.”
Puja Sawhney

“I agree!  But from my own knowledge and experience, climate change is something that is building up, so therefore, who knows that the policies of climate change would surpass other policies.“
Akisi Korodrau

Empowering communities in Tonga

By Mona Ainu'u - Niue Broadcasting Corporation

Apia, Samoa - The lessons learnt from community empowerment projects in Tonga to address climate change and disaster preparedness were shared during the “Lessons learnt for future action” conference in Samoa this week.

The Tonga Community Development Trust is an indigenous, non-governmental development organisation in Tonga established 30 years ago. The Trust has several community projects in place that focus on climate change and disaster preparedness.

One is the “Community Empowerment and Climate Change Adaptation” to empower coastal communities in Lifuka and Foa Islands in Ha’apai so they can better adapt to the negative impacts of climate change.

The other is the “Coping communities and disaster preparedness” to increase resilience of communities in encountering future natural disasters through the adoption of traditional coping mechanisms in Neiafu, Vava’u and Hihifo of the Ha’apai Islands.

Sione Fakao’si the Executive Director,  Tonga Community Development Trust

“Tonga Community Development Trust was set up with an outlook of helping disadvantaged families and communities in Tonga. That they are living in a safe, secure and healthy environment and are empowered to be self-reliant through sustainable development and preservation of traditional culture and values,” explained Sione Fakao’si the Executive Director.

Through this experience, Mr. Fakao’si shared the message that resilient planning needs as much attention as that of finance.

While these two initiatives are successful in having carried out different activities to raise awareness and actually implement ‘on the ground’ actions, there are still some challenges.

“With steps to adjust there is still a struggle with lack of appropriate materials, unforeseen circumstances of weather challenges, and the continuity of the dependency mentality despite empowerment,” said Fakao’si.

“An understanding must be reached by all parties in order to have an effect on the responsibilities of communities and this will impact on policies and plans.”

One of the key achievements of the projects is the formation of a local Coordinating project team consisting of both government and community leaders to make collective decisions.

For more information on the Tonga Community Development Trust and the two projects please visit:

CARIBBEAN-ENVIRONMENT-Regional governments praised for changed attitude towards climate change

by Ernie Seon - Caribbean Media Corporation

Apia, Samoa – The head of the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), Dr. Kenrick Leslie, says the decision of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to give priority to climate change issues is allowing the region to implement policies relating to the environment.

 However, he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that while strides were being made at the policy development, there was urgent need for more to be done at the community level where the issues remained largely unknown and misunderstood.

“We need to continue to approach our work on two fronts, at the community level and at the policy level. We have made more progress at the policy level and the thrust must now be directed at the communities, ensuring that the schools become involved in understanding their role in addressing the effects of climate change,” Dr. Leslie said.

The CCCCC executive director was among delegates who addressed the opening of a four-day conference entitled “Lessons for Future Action: Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in Small Island States.”

The aim of the conference is to share experiences and lessons learned in relation to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction among Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean, drawing on experiences from Australia and other countries.

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

Dr. Leslie, whose Belize based organisation has chosen Caribbean facilitators for the Pacific exchange, said that from 2007 CARICOM government  have accepted that climate change should not be seen solely as an environment issue, but one that involves foreign policies and foreign trade as has been the case with the United States and China.

“If we keep talking about climate change solely as an environmental matter we will never get the kind of support we are looking for, so while the governments have taken the issue to a new level, there is still a whole lot more to be done,” he added.

Dr. Leslie said that over the past three years, the Caribbean has been able to make greater strides than their counterparts in the Pacific and Indian Ocean in setting up strategies for improving the environment and addressing climate change issues. 

However he conceded that very little strides had been made in enforcing policies.

“We could set up the best policies but if we don’t have enforcement it can all go to naught. So our priority at this time would be to ensure that new policies are properly implemented and enforced and then strengthen those that we have already put in place.

“This calls for stronger political will and more involvement of the people especially the youths who will be the benefactors of the future.

“It is through these young people and their community leaders that political leaders could be pressured into making the right decisions,” he told CMC. 

Dr. Leslie lamented the fact that the region has taken a long time to taget young people with regards to climate change issues.

He said he hoped the conference here would result in greater collaboration between the Caribbean and Pacific States and that Australia would extend its climate change funding programme to the Caribbean.

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.

Sharing lessons learnt for future action

By Rosalie Nongebatu - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

L - R Jo Mummery, David Sheppard, James Bartley, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi,
Prime Minister of Samoa
Apia, Samoa - “Adaptation to climate change including how that will change our exposure and risks from natural disasters is a very complex issue.”

Those words by Jo Mummery of the Australian Government’ s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency was to help provide an overview of the Lessons for Future Action Conference now underway in Apia, Samoa.

Ms Mummery says there is uncertainty in how much the climate will change and in some areas it is not known what it means for the different stresses and how that will then impact on societies, industries and environments.

“There is a lot we yet don’t know about how much adaptation is needed and when it is needed, and importantly we don’t necessarily know yet whether actions we take now will continue to be effective in the future, as climate changes more”.

Because of this complexity, participants at the conference need to share their experiences and to reflect on what has been done to date and whether it has worked.  There is also the need to draw upon all the relevant expertise to face future climate change challenges.

 “All knowledge and capacity that will help manage the magnitude of this challenge, knowledge from what has been done, not designed for future climates, and understanding and consideration about what’s been done somewhere else maybe relevant to a specific region or country”.

It is also hoped that experiences will be shared between regions, donors and small island developing states around the world to help understand the challenges faced by SIDS and a way forward.

The conference began on Monday and has participants from throughout the different Small Islands Developing States (SIDS).  Two key issues are the theme for each day -  discussions on these issues are prompted by a panel of presentations made by people from different areas.  A break out group is formed after the presentations for people to look at solutions and think of ways we can best move forward.

The conference is funded by the Australian Government and coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, SPREP.

Lessons for Future Action: Bulletin 1


DOWNLOAD LINK:   (PDF, 1,011.97 KB)