Thursday, 18 July 2013

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.

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