Tuesday 7 June 2011

Niue, the Rock of Polynesia to learn from climate change adaptation conference

By Mona Ainu’u – Broadcasting Corporation of Niue

Closing Bulletin, June 20011, Apia Samoa -  Niue Island sits in the Pacific Ocean on the biggest upraised Coral in the world, but it’s the smallest nation in comparison to those countries that attended the “Lessons Learn for Future Action” climate change adaptation conference in Samoa this month.

Rossylin Pulehetoa from the Climate Change office in Niue is not overwhelmed by this comparison she has been making the most of the meeting considering all information as constructive and imperative to the development of Niue’s climate change adaptation work.

“The conference is very informative and educational,” said Pulehetoa.

“I have liked hearing the experiences from the Caribbean countries, the NGO perspective as well and also other pacific island countries and I find it very useful and wouldn’t mind using some of those activities or projects that is happening in their countries to be adapted for Niue.”

Niue is experiencing similar problems when it comes to adapting to climate change as other countries across the region.  Pulehetoa is also finding these challenges are being responded to in similar ways as other Pacific islands countries and territories.

 “Maybe the adaptation challenges are different in some regards, but overall the issues are the same and the understanding as well especially in trying to target the community, those are the very core people that we need to get the message out on climate change right down to the grassroots level”.

Niue has carried out numerous climate change awareness activities, such as community workshops, music videos, talent quest for women and song quest for men, as well as competitions for posters, poems and billboards.  With all the awareness and information available in Niue, there is now a need for more action and on-the-ground work on climate change adaptation.

“I think there are too many procedural processes and there are new terms and methods and ways on how to tackle climate change, but when you get down to it, its new terms and methods for tackling basically the same thing.  We need to see more action.”

Talking climate change with Alan Porteous of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research

By Mona Ainu’u Broadcasting Corporation of Niue

Closing Bulletin, June 20011, Apia Samoa - The global community needs to work together quickly, systematically and scientifically otherwise they are endangering the lives of everyone, in particularly the vulnerable small island states, said Alan Porteous from the New Zealand Government Research Institute, NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research)

“A lot of the problems and risks that have to be managed by small countries can be overwhelming because they are generated from global activities,” said Porteous.

 “People in small island states are particularly vulnerable because some of the islands are quite low lying, there’s limited land area and there’s constraints on economic resources to actually make far reaching adaptation measures.  The challenge for us is to really listen to the concerns of the small island states and to work with them.  We need to take global responsibility and make sure the smaller states are not overwhelmed by what is really a global problem.”

Porteous attended the ‘Lessons learnt for future action’ conference on climate change adaptation that was held in Samoa this month.  He is no stranger to Samoa, having been involved in the Climate Early Warning System project that is designed to help the country respond quickly and effectively to adverse climate events.  This will help Samoa adapt to changes in the climate providing the nation with information to help them manage these sectors.

“We have started with agriculture and with health and will shortly be working in the forestry area so I’ll need to know firstly a lot about what the communities want, what do sectors of the economy want and the kind of information that is useful for day to day decision making and for a long term perspective on climate change”.

One of the key issues discussed during the four day conference was ‘Information and Awareness Raising,’ the need for scientists to be able to relay information to the general audience was raised, as well as the acknowledgement of the range of communication tools available to ensure the scientific information is shared to local communities.

“It’s something we do need a lot of help on the key is probably ‘listening’.  Listen to people’s concerns, listen to the type of language they use and that of the environment and the communities they work in and try match the science, understanding and use of the scientific language to those needs and to that level of understanding”.

For more on the Climate Early Warning System please visit:

Less climate change talk - more action needed

By Mona Ainu’u – Broadcasting Corporation of Niue

Closing Bulletin, June 20011, Apia Samoa - The climate change predicament facing the Pacific low-lying island states is a crisis that communities hope will be addressed with effective adaptation plans, and less talking.  The call for action was raised by several different people attending the “Lessons for Future Action’ meeting on climate change adaptation in Samoa this month.

 “There are too many procedures and not enough actions, there are too many adaptation and task forces for this and that, and actions are not being taken.  Communities are tired they need answers right away,” said Singeo Franz of the National Emergency Management office of Palau.

Claire Aniterea of the CAN Kiribati network and Caritas, also said she feels there are still too many procedural processes and not enough action.

“As an NGO we want to see more action with our own environment on how to adapt to the changes, but it’s also good to documents things that have being done and also need both talk, document, but important to do something about it.”

Alongside this are other issues in each country which they feel needs to be addressed to help improve Kiribati and Palau adapt to the climate change impacts better.

For Palau, the examples of different government ministries working together to address climate change has been an eye opener.  Franz explained he has spent time at the meeting learning from Tonga and the Federated States of Micronesia as these countries have merged the teams focusing on climate change and disaster risk management for effective response.

“I was trying to get information on how they did it, and for that their leaders agree to merge into one, as for Palau we’d like to be united like that, and because climate change can cause disasters, and that’s where we come in”.

In Kiribati sharing the climate change message with the whole population is one of the issues to be addressed believes Aniterea who works with communities and has learnt that the science needs to be communicated to all in a way everyone understands.

“We need to bring the science background in a simple way so the people get the message, if we try to explain climate change with graphs and all, then it is not effective for my people.  We need to make the science so they understand.

Both Aniterea and Franz attended the Lessons for Future Action meeting on climate change adaptation in Samoa.