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.