Wednesday 13 November 2013

Pacific faces working as part of the UN security at the UNFCCC COP19

L - R:  Mii Matamaki, Cook Islands with Aminiasi Boseniyasana, FIji - UN Security
13 November, UNFCCC, Warsaw Poland - When you are far from home it is always welcoming to see a familiar face!  Aminiasi Boseniyasana was one of several members of the UN Security patrolling at the UNFCCC COP 19. He along with four others from Fiji are based in the Hague. Coming from a Police and military background, Boseniyasana has worked for the UN Security for nine years. He was also part of the UN Security team at the UNFCCC COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009.

Fiji featured in Adopt a Negotiator Project

He was awarded a fellowship to be part of a team that tracks the negotiations aiming to translate the process so that it is understandable.

As explained on their Adopt-a-Negotiator website:
"One of the reasons engagement in global negotiations is so hard is because they are complex, dry, and full of language that no one outside the system can understand. That's where we come in.

As a group of independent young people writing from our own perspectives, we give you a raw take on who is doing what in this effort. We tell it like it is, with all the emotion that comes with failure or with progress. We bring a human element to a too soulless process."

The Adopt a Negotiator project is supported by the Global Campaign for Climate Action with updates from the Negotiation trackers shared through social media sites at regular intervals.

Krishneil Narayan1L - R:  Krishneil Narayan with Sai Navoti of the Fiji Delegation

While at the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 19) Krishneil will be following the work of the Fiji delegation. Fiji plays an important role at this conference as the Chair of the G77, a negotiating bloc of over 130 nations.

"I was really delighted to be selected for this fellowship, I have worked with the Adopt a Negotiator trackers in the past and have found them to be inspiring," said Narayan.

"We basically track the negotiations and negotiators and write about the process in a way that those outside of the conference venue can understand why these negotiations happen and how it relates to their daily lives. As much as possible we try to give the negotiations a human face."

Narayan is no stranger to the UN Climate negotiations.

He first attended the 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen four years ago as one of the Pacific youth delegates that were part of the Project Survival activity.

Since then Narayan has remained an advocate in the campaign against climate change through Project Survival Pacific.

"The Pacific islands are one of the least represented groups at the UN Climate conference and it's very difficult to navigate through this huge negotiation process with such a small group of people. My aim is to engage more young people through Project Survival Pacific as these negotiations are all about the people back at home."

For the UNFCCC COP 19,  the 12 trackers are from all four corners of the globe; India, Philippines, New Zealand, Kenya, Nigeria, Fiji, Poland, Ukraine, Brazil, Middle East and North Africa region, Peru and China.

Read more about their perspectives of the UN climate talks in Warsaw Poland.

Cook Islands share renewable energy targets at global climate talks in Warsaw, Poland

12 November 2013, UNFCCC COP 19, Warsaw Poland - In just over a year, 50% of the Cook Islands will be powered by renewable energy and then five years later in 2020 this will increase to 100%.

These targets set by the Government of the Cook Islands were announced at a special event in Warsaw, Poland this week, to show the diverse ways parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

While it is estimated to cost the nation over NZD 220 million dollars to achieve its 100% renewable energy target, the benefits in the long run are worth the investment.

Mii Matamaki 1 copyMs. Mii Matamaki presenting at the 'Workshop under the SBI work programme to further the understanding of the diversity of NAMAs' - image courtesy of Ms. Amelia Fukofuka

"The Cook Islands are the first Pacific island nation to register our NAMA, the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action, with the UNFCCC," said Ms. Mii Matamaki of the Cook Islands delegation after delivering a presentation on the Cook Island NAMA.

"It outlines how we intend to achieve our targets and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to help mitigate climate change, these are plans that we have already started to implement. This was presented at the event which had a good outcome for us - we received interest from a possible donor to support us to continue implementing this plan of action."

A NAMA is a voluntary plan of action that outlines how parties intend to uphold their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will mitigate climate change through different actions.

These are then registered with the UNFCCC to help seek support to carry out these actions and it's also the shows a country's commitment to slow global warming as a party to the UN Climate Convention.

The Cook Islands registered their NAMA in January this year.

The Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action was developed through a project by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to form a NAMA guideline for the Pacific and then testing it out in a Pacific Island Country.

The result was a user-friendly guide and step-by-step process that Cook Islands successfully applied in practice.

"Our goal for 100% renewable energy is to help ensure an economically feasible way of living for residents on our islands. It's getting so expensive to run our electricity both at government level and for our households but it's an added bonus in that through using renewable energy we are also being environmentally responsible as well," said Matamaki.

There are 14 power stations throughout the 12 inhabited islands that rely on imported fuel. The challenges of ensuring fuel reaches these islands to power their generators, at an affordable cost, is ongoing and not always overcome.

"Many of our people now have a lifestyle whereby electricity has become a part of their life however the cost of fuel is a major burden for families. We only anticipate good outcomes all round once we achieve our target with support from partners - families will have power at a cheaper cost and our island nation will have reached low carbon development."

The special event on NAMA's at the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention to Climate Change was held on Monday, 11 November.

The UNFCCC COP 19 takes place in Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 22 November.

The NAMA guideline was developed by the Global Climate Change Consultancy and SPREP, with significant inputs from Cook Islands stakeholders. It was funded by the Taiwan/ROC Regional Development Assistance programme and the Pacific Island Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy Project.

Vanuatu, well represented at global climate forum

11 November 2013, UNFCCC COP 19, Warsaw Poland - Vanuatu is serious about raising their climate change concerns at the international level.

The island nation has a 15 strong delegation including a cabinet minister at the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention to Climate Change (UNFCCC COP19), all of whom were part of a six month project to prepare for the global negotiations.

As part of this project delegates were selected to represent Vanuatu and participate in a range of different activities to develop national positions, prepare ministerial cabinet briefings, undergo negotiations training and a workshop to assign different roles and responsibilities within the delegation.

"Our delegation is wide and varied, we have members from the government, civil society, youth groups and private sector," said Mr. Albert Williams of Vanuatu.

"We prepared our delegation to be well informed of our key issues of finance, gender balance, adaptation and so forth, before coming here. The COP is tough and that's why we wanted them to have a feel of the realities of this event before coming to Warsaw so our delegation is better prepared."

Vanuatu delegation 1
Members of the Vanuatu delegation in Warsaw, Poland - Photo courtesy of Climate Change Vanuatu

Vanuatu were one of the first nations in the world to relocate a community due to climate change impacts. The Tegua relocation programme began in 2002 and resulted in 100 residents moving inland due to coastal inundation impacting on their homes and drinking water.

The climate change impacts continue to be felt by the residents of Vanuatu with water shortages, coastal inundation and erosion of coastlines, relocation of government infrastructure and effects on food crops.

For Vanuatu the global climate change negotiations are vital to the survival of their way of life and investing in a well-prepared national delegation demonstrates their commitment.

"I think we achieved so much in such a short time with our six month preparation project," said Charlotte-Fleur Cristofari, coordinator of the project that is led by the Vanuatu National Advisory Board on Climate Change - Project Management Unit.

"We've made history for Vanuatu on different levels: we made our first two submissions to the UNFCCC on Gender Balance and Direct Finance; this is our largest delegation ever with over 15 members, including a large female contingent, which is a first too."

As part of preparation for the Vanuatu delegation, they underwent a one week negotiations skills training by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), helping to provide first time delegates with a background view of what to expect at the climate negotiations.

2013 SPREP October Vanuatu Negotiations training participants 118 copy copy
Role playing activities during the training which requires teams to develop ministerial briefs on agenda items

It was through this project that other sectors were also provided the opportunity to strengthen their awareness and understanding about the UNFCCC COP. A seminar was made to students at the Emalus Campus of the University of the South Pacific; a national youth and climate change day was held across the 6 provinces of Vanuatu and; national media also underwent a one day training facilitated by SPREP.

The pilot project is funded by AusAid, through Oxfam and SPC-GIZ Climate Change Vanuatu. It is supported by the National Advisory Board on Climate Change- Project Management Unit, Vanuatu Climate Adaptation Network (VCAN), SPREP, Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), USP and Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation.

The UNFCCC COP 19 is hosted in Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 22 November.

Global Climate Conference called to reflect on a safe climate future for all

"AOSIS has long advocated a science-driven, robust and ambitious response to the climate challenge. We are here to play our part in ensuring that we live up to our responsibility to our people and future generations, and we assure you of our support as we fight for our survival and work to ensure a safe climate future for all." - Alliance of Small Island States.
11 November 2013, UNFCCC COP 19, Warsaw Poland - The Alliance of Small Island States asked the international community today, to reflect on whether it is living up to the commitments made to each other over two decades ago, to tackle and find solutions to climate change with the establishment of the UNFCCC.

The opening of the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention (UNFCCC) to Climate Change was the backdrop for the call from AOSIS.

"In the immediate wake of Super-storm Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, which left a wake of destruction across Palau, Micronesia, and most severely in the Philippines, it is hard to claim that we have," said Ms. Lara Daniel of Nauru, speaking on behalf of AOSIS during the opening.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this horrific tragedy. It is a cruel reminder for all of us regarding what is really at stake at these talks. We should also recall that last year's conference began with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy as a backdrop."

Lara DanielMs. Lara Daniel of Nauru presenting a statement at the opening plenary of the UNFCCC COP 19 on behalf of AOSIS.  Photo courtesy of Mr. Ewan Cameron

The 14 Pacific islands represented at the UNFCCC COP 19 negotiate at the international climate change conference together as part of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) a coalition of 44 states and observers from small island and low-lying coastal countries.

Together, Small Island Developing States communities constitute some 5 percent of the global population, they are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

AOSIS is calling for progress to be made at this COP on a legally binding protocol under the UNFCCC to be adopted no later than 2015 to keep global warming well below 1.5 degrees. This protocol must ensure there is no backsliding in the type, nature, or ambition of mitigation commitments.

"For many island nations, the cost of more extreme weather events has been mounting for some time: in the toll it is taking on our oceans and reefs; in the damage it is causing our food and water supplies; in the loss of our coastlines and parts of our sovereign territories; and, sadly, in the many lives lost," said Daniel.

"The safety, viability and survival of our members demands that the agreement be based on best science and therefore include a global goal of keeping warming well below 1.5 degrees."

This year the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention to Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 19) is hosted by Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 22 November.

Global climate conference opens in Warsaw, Poland

11 November 2013, UNFCCC COP 19, Warsaw Poland - Sobering messages were delivered at the opening of the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework to Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland today. 
Findings of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were presented by the Chairman of the IPCC, Dr. Rachendra Pachauri, strengthening the call for urgent action.
According to the overview, each of the three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850 and it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
Since the early 1970's, glacier mass loss and ocean thermal expansion from warming together explain about 75% of the observed global mean sea level rise.

IPCC Chair2Dr. Rachendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, addressing the UNFCCC COP 19 Opening Plenary - Image courtesy of Ms. Amelia Fukofuka

"Mahatma Gandhi said A technological society has two choices. First, it can wait until catastrophic failures expose systematic deficiencies, distortion, and self-deceptions...secondly, a culture can provide social checks and balances to correct for systematic distortions prior to catastrophic failures," said Dr. Pachauri.
"I hope this would be the kind of direction in which our discussions would take place supported by the science and findings that we have brought up in the report of the IPCC."
On the 95th anniversary of independence for Poland the President of the UNFCCC COP 19 called for the world to close ranks and act together, referring to the typhoon tragedy in the Philippines as an 'awakening'.
"I say awakening because it is yet another proof that we are losing this unequal struggle between man and nature. It got the better of us yet again, and will continue to do so in the future if we do not close ranks and act together to strike back. Climate is a global issue, global problem and global opportunity at the same time," said His Excellency, Mr. Marcin Korolec during his opening statement.
"It is a problem if we cannot concert our efforts. It becomes an opportunity where we can act together. One country or group cannot make a difference but acting together, united as we are here, we can do it."
All 14 Pacific Island Countries that are members of the UNFCCC are represented at the global conference on climate change, as well as delegates from Tokelau who are attending as part of the New Zealand delegation.
Although they contribute to less than 1% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, the Pacific islands are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
It's here in Warsaw, Poland that the Pacific region is hopeful their voice will be heard and action is taken to  lower global temperatures.
Ms. Christiana Figueres the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC called for a level playing field in the face of climate change.
"There is no doubt that climate change has created an unlevel playing field for future generations. Previous generations unknowingly had an advantage; and now we know that future generations face a monumental uphill struggle. We must urgently level the playing field."
The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992, which sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid "dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has 195 parties.
This year the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention to Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 19) is hosted by Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 22 November.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Pacific joint meeting provides springboard for global discussions


Dr. Jimmie Rodgers, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, praised the leadership shown by the nations of the Pacific and their contribution to global efforts to address the challenges posed by climate change and disasters. By embarking on a joint strategy to address these two key challenges, Pacific Island countries and territories are leading the world in rationalizing their approach, which provides a best practice example for other countries and regions of the world.
“We opened a new chapter with this meeting. What we have witnessed this week is a demonstration of vision and leadership arising from the countries of the Pacific region. The final goal is the foundation of a safe and secure future for Pacific people now and for those to come,” says Dr. Rodgers.

The regional initiative has been praised by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction as the springboard that will provide impetus to discussions at the global level in the coming 18 months.

Jerry Velasquez, the Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in Asia Pacific, said the region had again demonstrated its global leadership by placing the future of disaster risk reduction work explicitly within a holistic and overarching approach to sustainable development.

“With its identification of national leadership of integrated action in disaster risk management and climate change supported by enlightened regional and international partnership as key, UNISDR is confident that the region will achieve its ambitions and more importantly make a difference to vulnerable communities around the Pacific, which is the ultimate measure of success,” says Velaquez.

Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), David Sheppard, said “This has been a meeting with a rich and exciting programme. Countries have already successfully commenced work on linking their climate and disaster functions and an integrated strategy at the regional level will enable us to support these efforts while avoiding competition and duplication. We now have a clear path forward for bringing an integrated strategy to fruition.” 
The meeting achieved a world first by bringing together the two principal regional conferences on disaster risk management and climate change. The joint meeting will contribute to the formulation of an over-arching regional strategy and framework for climate and disaster-resilient development to be considered for endorsement by the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in 2015.

An integrated approach to addressing disaster risk reduction and climate change concerns will mean better use of national and regional capacities and resources to address the risks posed by hazards, whether they are extreme weather events such as cyclones and droughts or ‘slow onset’ events such as rising sea levels or ocean acidification associated with climate change. The strategy will further progress the agenda of enabling the Pacific Islands region to build resilience to our changing climate.

The strategy and framework will be developed in full by 2015 and will replace the current Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Framework for Action 2005 -2015 and Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change 2006 -2015.

The meeting, which ran from Monday 8 July to Thursday 11 July, 2013, was hosted and chaired by the Government of Fiji and jointly convened by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). 

Closing of the Joint meeting on climate change and disaster risk management

By Ben Kedoga, NBC PNG

11 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - Pacific Island Countries are not only advocates but practitioners of disaster and climate change risk adaptation and mitigation.
Fiji’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Rural Development and National Disaster, Inia Seruiratu said this during his closing remarks at the conclusion of the Joint meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable today.
“The classic showcase of Choiseul province in the Solomon Islands and SPREP’s Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change, PACC projects in the Rewa delta in Fiji are evidence of our collective collaboration with our partners to get the balance right between adaptation and mitigation for climate change and disaster risks,” Seruiratu said.
He added that Pacific island countries share common approaches in trying to adapt and mitigate between aspects of climate change and disaster risk management.
“Therefore these commonalties must be well discussed at the community, national and regional levels so that a practical, gender-sensitive and pragmatic approach is agreed upon by all key stakeholders to avoid duplication and that efficiencies can be generated through our joint efforts,” he said.
However, he pointed out that to achieve results for the region a collective regional approach and integration is imperative to achieve the desired outcome.

Joint meeting comes to an end

By Bill Jaynes, The Kaselehlie Press:

11 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - The Joint Meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable meetings came to close this afternoon at the Sofitel Hotel in Denarau, Fiji.  Delivering their closing remarks were SPREP Director General David Sheppard, Timothy Wilcox of the UNISDR, and Dr. Jimmie Rogers of SPC. 
The meeting was officially concluded by Inia Seruiratu, Fji’s Minister for Disaster Management who said, “A strategic policy and a strong political will and commitment are the key tenants of realizing the vision of integrating climate change and disaster response.”
Echoing the sentiments of an earlier speaker Sheppard said that the discussions were historic precedent setting and an example for the rest of the world.
“Any change to our existing systems of work can potentially seem threatening and there have been some discussions about implications of an integrated strategy for issues like funding, and the roles and responsibilities of different agencies, at national and regional levels,” Sheppard said.  “A key lesson I have drawn is that integration is not a threat - it's an opportunity.”
“Any strategy or process is only as good as the outcomes and results it delivers for the countries and peoples of the Pacific.  Our focus must be sharply and clearly on supporting Pacific Island countries adapt and build resilience to climate change and natural disasters, as an essential contribution to sustainable development in our region,” Sheppard reminded the crowd.
Wilcox said that he has very familiar with the drudgery of some meetings and “death by Power Point” but said that he felt that he had seen a lot of productivity at these meetings and could see that the Pacific Region is moving forward.
“Our human relationship with Mother Nature is often one of bitter struggle.  It’s not always as harmonious as we would like it to be.  So now that we have a plan for the future, or working one, hopefully we will be able to have a more harmonious life with the planet as it’s making it’s changes,” Wilcox said.
“It’s clear that this region has much to offer the rest of the world by way of good example…my person experience in going to meeting in other parts of the world is that the Pacific Voice is not heard.  Not because it’s not there but because it gets lost in all the troubles that often seem so overwhelming in other parts of the world.  Peace is a commodity your region and we should be thankful for that” he said.
 Dr. Jimmie Rogers gave the final closing statement.  “What I saw this week was a building of character.  It was a demonstration of vision.  It was a demonstration of leadership from our countries of the region.  We were not worried so much in as far as ‘we cannot do this’.  I think the Pacific is saying, “Because we are in this situation—we did not bring ourselves here but we must stand up and be counted.  We need, as a group, to move forward.”
He said that there are many more mountains to cross and more rivers and oceans to cross.  “’Roadmap’ is a nice term but there’s a lot of work in it too,” he said.

Sheppard: Integration is not a threat - it's an opportunity

By Daniel Namosuaia, Solomon Star:

11 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - The Director General of the Secretariat of Regional Environment Programme, David Sheppard says integration is a great opportunity for the region to deal with the impacts of climate change and disasters.
In his closing remarks at the Joint Meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management(PPDRM) and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable(PCCR), he said any strategy or process is only as good as the outcomes and the results it delivers for the countries and people of the Pacific.
Quoting British wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill, Sheppard said, “no matter how beautiful the strategy, it is always good to look at the results."
“Our focus must be sharply and clearly on supporting Pacific Island countries adapt and build resilience to climate change and natural disasters, as an essential contribution to sustainable development in our region,” Sheppard said
He highlighted four key points from the meeting;
1. There is no one size that fits all - any regional strategy must focus on enabling and supporting national action, and must also support and guide Governments to develop the systems and processes that will work best in their context, in their own unique circumstances.
2. Ownership is essential if any strategy is to work. Inclusion, real inclusion, of different groups is crucial for any integrated strategy.
3. Any integrated strategy should be underpinned by good governance .
4. The work in this region must inform international efforts on disaster risk reduction and climate.
Sheppard stressed that responses to climate change and natural disasters must involve a mix of responses, including those related to infrastructure and those related to ecosystem protection.
Adding that integrated strategy must reinforce the state of urgency facing the region regarding climate change, associated sea level rise and natural disasters.
He highlighted that good governance will ensure Pacific countries to better respond to a changing climate and to natural disasters.
Adding that national and regional efforts must support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that funding commitments are met.
“Partnerships at all levels are essential and we have seen how partnerships, such as in the Choiseul Province, benefit Pacific countries and their people.”
He said while countries of the world argue about emissions reductions and particularly who is to blame, the countries of the Pacific are the first impacted and will be the first to go under.
“He encouraged the increasing level of partnership and joint work between CROP agencies to continue and accelerate since positive outcomes has been made.
“We must all reach out and better engage new partners, and avoid competition and duplication.
“Partnership are not the end in themselves we must focus on working together to deliver better results to support national priorities and meet local needs,” Sheppard added.
He said SPREP looks forward to working with Pacific countries and territories, other CROP agencies, donors and partners to support the development of the integrated strategy.

Tonga’s’ Director of Education quoted at the closing program of the Joint Meeting in Fiji

By Sini Latu, Tonga Broadcasting Commission:

11 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - “Work hard but always look at the scoreboard” were the words of encouragement from the Chief Executive Officer of Tonga’s Ministry of Education Emily Pouvalu.

She said this during her presentation on Education on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management – Priority Areas and Best Practices – on Wednesday morning.

She was quoted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Region Environment Programme’s Director General – David Sheppard – while giving his closing remarks at the end of the Joint Meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable.

Though the meeting has been tiring, Sheppard says “it has been a very interesting and rewarding experience”.
Sheppard said the four day meeting  was “ground breaking, as well as stimulating and challenging”.

The meeting has brought together key related sectors to discuss on issues that are affecting the region.

In moving forward – Mr Sheppard suggests that “we must listen to and we must be willing to learn from each other. We must build approaches based on trust and open and clear communication.”

“The bottom line from any process is that it must deliver improved results and outcomes for Pacific countries on climate change and disaster risk

“We should be opportunistic and use key events such as the Governing Council Meetings of SPREP and SPC to advance the strategy.”

“We should consider how key events for our region such as the landmark SIDS Conference in Samoa next year can be used to showcase and advance
climate change and disaster reduction in our region.”

The Joint Meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable is the first joint meeting to be held in the Pacific Region.

Many positive lessons learnt from Joint Platform meeting on Disaster Risk and Climate Change

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS:

11 July, 2013, Nadi, Fiji - Organisers of the first ever Joint Meeting of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Fiji have described the meeting as an ‘amazing’ experience bringing the two communities together to find common grounds to work together for the benefit of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs).
Mosese Sikivou, the Manager Community Risk programme said member countries were very supportive of the proposed Roadmap process that paves the way for a regional strategy on DRM and Climate Change (CC) by the end of 2014.
“I think the countries are very supportive of this because this is a regional initiative that builds on what they already have at the national level. They have the leadership and ownership to carry it through.
“They want the regional architecture to provide a better enabling environment to allow them to integrate better. This meeting is part of a process that started two years ago. It is significant because it is the first time that climate and disaster communities have come together, said Sikivou.’’
Dr Netauta Pelesikoti, the director of climate change division at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment echoed the sentiments of Sikivou saying a lot of work needs to be done moving forward.
“A clear message came from Pacific Island Countries and Territories that they want to be involved in the process. Many of them have volunteered to be included in the steering committee and technical working groups that will carry forward the consultations and the drafting.
“The topics that we heard this week provided some insights on the priority areas that can be looked at in the proposed strategy. Today we discussed vulnerable groups and the need to mainstream gender considerations, said Dr Pelesikoti.
At the same time, the joint meeting highlighted synergies between different stakeholders and the role they can play in the Roadmap process and the development of the proposed regional strategy.
“We are talking about a lot more significant penetration and tangible results at the community level and that is something we hope, as we move forward will form the core of the umbrella strategy that we hope to achieve.
Sikivou said the concerns of vulnerable groups will also be incorporated into discussions now being shaped for the regional strategy.
“We are hoping that they will get a visible profile and become a significant focus of the work that we do. The message that came from the session this morning is that they have a lot to contribute in building resilient communities.
“We need to reorient our thinking and not look at them as a vulnerable group but how they can contribute to building resilient communities. If we do that, then we can adopt a ‘whole of country’ approach, said Sikivou.
Dr Pelesikoti of SPREP agrees that vulnerable groups are an important component of the integrated regional strategy.
“It has been raised and they must be included. They are an important group in our society. One of the reasons why they are more vulnerable than others is because they need special attention and assistance, said Dr Pelesikoti.
Another emerging group is the private sector, said Sikivou.
“We are trying to organise a meeting for the private sector before the end of this year and a separate one for civil society as well. If we are able to get these stakeholders together in dedicated groups, we may be able to draw out some key messages.
Both Sikivou and Dr Pelesikoti agree the Joint National Action Plan (JNAPs) on DRM and CC that exists in 13 of the 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories shows commitment and political will at the national level to move forward with the regional integration proposal.
“Many countries have developed their JNAPS but there is a need for the sectors to take priority and integrate them into their sector action plan.  We need to move away from the thinking that CC and DRM are confined to only some sectors. There needs to be national mechanisms to take regional policies down to provinces, outer islands and communities.
“This week, we have seen political leadership shown by the deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, the acting Prime Minister of Fiji, Minister of Finance of Vanuatu and the Minister of Environment from Vanuatu. There is a commitment from decision makers that they see  climate change and disaster risk management are key development issue that need to be addressed if governments want to have sustainable development, said Dr Pelesikoti.
If the regional strategy is endorsed by Pacific Leaders in August 2014, the Pacific will be the first region in the world with an integrated plan to tackle disaster risk and climate change.
“We need to be grounded, keep our feet firmly on the ground and just get on and do the work. Our success as a region should be demonstrated by our work and not by what we are saying.
“One of the things that worked for us is that a lot of what we do amongst ourselves as Pacific Islanders is built on the strong foundation of mutual respect and trust. I am optimistic that if we continue to use this as the mainstay for our discussions, we can achieve greater things for our people, said Sikivou.
The joint meeting has brought SPC and SPREP close together, said Sikivou.
“ We’ve always had a strong relationship. This integration agenda going back to 2009 has just brought us much closer together. We were set up to address different things but we are mutually complementary, said Sikivou.
A meeting of the Steering committee will be held in August to discuss outcomes of the Nadi meeting.