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

Tonga - first in Pacific to join disaster risk and climate change plans

Clive Hawigen - SPREP

Apia, Samoa - Tonga will be the first country in the Pacific to implement a joint national action plan that will see both the climate change adaptation and disaster risk management teams join forces to plan for unforeseeable disasters in the island kingdom.

Sione Fulivai, climate change coordinator from Tonga said the merger of the two would synergise some of the projects both teams were working on.

L - R Clive Hawigen, Sione Fulivai

He explained that the disaster risk management unit deals with geographical disasters such as earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions and the climate change adaptation unit is related to issues such as changes in weather pattern resulting in flooding, droughts and/or intense cyclones.

“Both have a common link which was to plan and implement projects that will assist communities when such disasters arise,” he said

“Tonga’s national disaster office needed to deal with all of these issues thus merging both parties seemed a better option.”

A joint national action plan will enable better management and coordination. Originally, the disaster risk management unit had its own task force and the climate change adaptation unit had its own with a primary role to monitor everything that is linked to climate change. This also involved each department carrying out their own vulnerability studies.

“When we develop plans it becomes easier to do institutional frameworks and link institutions to the common theme,” said Mr Fulivai.

He said with the Joint National Action Plan will enable both teams to create synergies such as the climate change adaptation team to forecast what would happen and the disaster teams to respond.

He said some of the lessons learnt include the need for political support to drive the plan, the need for people at the national level to continue work to keep momentum, knowledge of how to coordinate both teams because without good coordination people will start duplicating work and collection of data is a slow process.

“Tonga’s JNAP is like a roadmap, it is a programmatic plan with certain number of projects within,” he said.

Other countries in the Pacific are also working towards merging their climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.

Official urges quick adoption of global agreement on climate change

by Ernie Seon - Caribbean Media Corporation

Apia, Samoa - The science advisor to the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS), Dr. Albert Binger, is urging countries to quickly adopt a global agreement which will spare small island states the agony of having to deal with the effects of more intense hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Dr Binger, who is on secondment from the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that while discussions are taking place on climate change, many are unaware of the urgency of the situation.

Far right - Dr Al Binger

“Essentially we have five years to set a global agreement to keep the emissions to where we see we can survive.
“It seems like in all the talk people don’t seem to recognise the urgency involved in the situation. There are 2,000 days or five years to actually get an implementation to meet a window to keep the temperature below 1.5 degrees.

“If it goes above 1.5 degrees a lot of countries especially those in the Caribbean and Pacific will be in serious trouble,” he warned.

Dr. Binger is among a number of climate change and environmental experts attending a four day conference on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in Small Island Development states which opened here on Monday.

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

He told CMC that collectively most small island states would feel the effects of serious flooding, drought and a lot more intense hurricanes in states like the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname and Guyana.

“We are already half way there, we are at .8 degrees and with all the hell that’s going on, you can imagine what another doubling can do,” Dr Binger remarked.

The AOSIS official whose role is to provide information on development projects, technologies and strategies to deal with climate change and sustainable development issues said that while the science and its impacts are known, the time factor isn’t.

“The development of science only last year gave us enough information that we were able to know that we had this amount of time.

“So the urgency is something that we look to the media to tell the population and the political leaders so there will be a sense or urgency. But at this time there still no urgency because they don’t realize there is actually a clock,” he noted.

He suggested that regardless of what is done at the international level if emissions are not stopped at a certain level, “all we are doing is buying time”.

Dr. Binger said what is required at the international level is a global agreement which caps the emissions and then reduces them, while at the national and regional levels, a rethinking is required because of the impact of sea level rise.

He said that an analysis for the Caribbean suggests that for one meter sea level rise, the damage to infrastructure is estimated at US$100 billion.

“This is a very conservative estimate, most of our beaches will be gone, so how do you build a future economy without tourism,” he said, recommending that the region gets its energy sector right, “not just to reduce our emissions but to generate finance resources that we can build a new economy with and deal with adaptations”.

The AOSIS official also called for better uses to be employed with educating people as to the existing threats, so that they same mistakes and malpractices are not repeated, “thinking that they live in a different climate regime than the one they face in the future.”

Dr. Binger also identified the need for more political understanding that climate change is not an issue for the wider Caribbean but for every single member of the population.