Tuesday 9 July 2013

Vanuatu opens new climate change ministry

By Ben Kedoga, NBC PNG

9 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - Pacific Island countries can learn from the Vanuatu experience, in terms of mainstreaming efforts to deal with climate change hazards. Vanuatu has created a new ministry to deal with climate change to see how best to respond climate anomalies.

Minister for Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Environment, Energy and Disaster Management, Thomas Laken says this is important for Vanuatu, because it is listed as among the most high risk Pacific Island Countries to natural disasters.

He says the creation of the Ministry by the new Vanuatu government was timely as they need to mainstream their efforts to address climate change and disaster risk management.

Laken is leading the development of policy and legislation to integrate climate change and disaster risk management. The Minister was part of a high level dialogue in Nadi on the vision and role of political governance in integrating disaster risk management and climate change.

He says they are proud to take the lead in the region to take the step forward in addressing their development needs.

The Minister recently tabled the country’s national energy roadmap which lays the foundation for Vanuatu to engage with partners in a more systematic way.

The Director General of the Ministry of Climate Change, Jotham Napat said they are consolidating their efforts help them to minimize expenses.

He said they had to look back on their efforts and come up with new ways of dealing with climate change and other related issues, adding that it is a signal for partners and donors that the region is ready.

Samoa environment boss on a mission in Fiji

By AsenatiTaugasoloSemu, Press Secretariat of the Government of Samoa: http://www.savalinews.com

9 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - The CEO for Samoa’s Ministry of National Resources and Environment is a man on a mission in Nadi this week.

Chief Executive Officer, Afioga Taulealeausumai Laavasa Malua is attending the Joint Meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management & Pacific Climate Change Roundtable being held in Nadi.

The meeting is to facilitate the on-going discussions between the disaster risk management and climate change communities in the Pacific.

For Taulealeausumai, the joint meeting is a viable opportunity to advocate partnership in all levels in the Pacific.

“I don’t mean partnership between donors and recipients but partnership from the grassroot level in villages; between private sector and government ministries; villages and non government organisations”

The CEO pointed out some projects funded by his ministry for some NGOs and government corporations to further prove his point.

“We have made budget allocations for the local Red Cross Water Tank Projects. We give them the fund and they implement the project.

“We also allocated budget for the plumbers association to assist with their capacity building so that they can assist the community with plumbing needs.”

Taulealeausumai said this is the kind of partnership that directly helps the community and cater for the shortage of staff at the Ministry.

“This is to ensure the good overseeing and monitoring of projects and programmes.”

The CEO said discussions and negotiations about partnership has long been practiced in Samoa.

“From the discussions I’ve heard so far, it seems that Samoa is way ahead,” said Taulealeausumai.
“I have learned from the discussions that the process is heading to where we are in terms of partnership. I think they all talk about partnership in all different levels; from the grassroot to the government level. This is why I talked about partnership during the discussions because we are pushing that theme for the Small Island Development State meeting in 2014 in Samoa. So starting from here, we are trying to advocate the importance of partnership.”

Taulealeausumai also pointed out the high level monitoring process executed by Samoa through its Cabinet Development Committee (CDC) as an example of a high level monitoring process.

This committee is chaired by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and comprises all Cabinet Ministers and Chief Executive Officers.

“The disaster risk management is similar to our national CDC. I hear people here asking about the process of high level monitoring which is exactly the role of CDC to monitor, review and follow up on project assigned to Ministries. Just recently the CDC made a MDG (Millennium Development Goal) review to discuss and follow up on Ministries that didn’t achieve the MDG.”

About the ongoing negotiations for the integrated strategy, Taulealeausumai said there are commonalities in disaster risk management and climate change

“In our Ministry, we include climate change when implementing projects and programmes on disaster risk management and vice versa,” said the CEO.

“It’s important that this meeting should look at the possibilities to either marry the two sectors and to see if that is effective or co-implement to see if both can work together. There are many commonalities in the two sectors at the national level, mainly in the implementation arrangement, but not in the regional level.”

But Taulealeausumai was positive about the negotiations and acquiring of funds.

“Its good to have the two separate so that donor partners can deal directly with each sector.”

Taulealeausumai also said the monitoring role of the Forum is very important.

“I rather that the central planning is aware and familiar with all the process than not aware at all,” he said

Tonga integrates CC and DRM into Education

By Sini Latu, Tonga Broadcasting Commission: http://www.tonga-broadcasting.net

9 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji -Tonga’s Ministry of Education is in the process of integrating climate change (CC) and disaster risk management (DRM) into the school curriculum.

The head of Tonga's Curriculum Development Unit of the Ministry of Education, Teresa Pahulu told the Joint 2013 Disaster Risk Management andClimate Change Roundtable, that a special committee is looking intoclimate change and disaster risk management closer into the education system.

The working committee on “Education on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management” will make sure that schools are being provided with and have developed resources on CC and DRM.

She pointed out that Tonga in its Strategic Development Framework 2011-2015 highlighted the importance of linking cultural awareness with climate change adaptation, disaster risk
management and environmental sustainability in education.

Pahulu says cultural awareness is the traditional way of foreseeing and withstandingthe impact of climate change and disasters.

She says these traditional practices needs to be further developed, placed in school resources.

Dr Rodgers: Support for the integrated framework important for Pacific’s future

By Daniel Namosuaia, Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com

9 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - The Director General of Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Dr Jimmie Rodgers has signalled the importance of a holistic support from all participants for the development of the joint integrated regional framework on climate change and disaster risk reduction.

“What I would expect out of this meeting is an universal kind of understanding and support that we agree on a road map to establish a integrated strategy by 2015,” Dr Rodgers said.

He said SPC, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Porgramme and United Nations office on Disaster Risks Reduction(UNISDR) will continue to support countries in the process of achieving the integrated framework strategy.

Dr Rodgers said he hoped that countries will get the support of agencies and donors to make the integrated framework work.

Cook Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu share practical experiences on CC and DRM integration

9 July, 2013, Nadi, Fiji - Cook Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu shared their experiences with integration of climate change (CC) and disaster risk management (DRM) practices at the High Level Dialogue session in Nadi today.

The dialogue provided an opportunity for key decision makers from Pacific Island Countries and Territories to discuss benefits and challenges of adopting a joint CC and DRM approach in their respective countries.

Moderated by the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk, Margareta Wahlstrom, discussions focused on successful practical implementation of policies at the national level.

Tonga’s deputy Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu said his government has committed TOP$6 million for emergency purposes in times of natural disaster.

This is a contingency fund that is used to immediately deal with any case of natural disaster.

“However, government is not Santa Claus. We are encouraging our communities to prepare themselves and their families first before government help comes in.

“In Tonga, we are encouraging government and community partnership. This is crucial in dealing with climate change and disaster risk reduction, said Vaipulu.

The Tongan Government has turned to private sector partnership to enhance its means of communicating disaster warnings to the community.

“Some of our key contact points in villages run out of credit on their mobile phones and have difficulties contacting us during disasters. What we have done is worked out a deal with Digicel in Tonga where in the event of an emergency, their numbers are activated for the purposes of reporting the disaster, said Minister Vaipulu.

In Vanuatu, the government has mainstreamed climate change and disaster reduction into its national policy.

Minister Thomas Laken, who is responsible for Environment, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Management, told the High Level Dialogue, the Pacific nation is piloting the integrated approach on the island of Epi in the Shefa Province.

“On the island, people will need to relocate inland as a result of the impact of climate change and in the event of a natural disaster. The airport on the island is built on the coast and will need to be relocated inland also because sea water inundation.

Minister Laken said Vanuatu will need assistance of donors to support national efforts in reducing disaster risks and the impact of climate change.

He agreed with the deputy Prime Minister of Tonga that while development partners are an important stakeholder in the integrated approach, ‘They must supplement national efforts and not tell us what we need to do. We must decide what we want to do,’ said Minister Laken.

Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown shared best practices now implemented by his government to strengthening its public financing system to increase ensure climate financing flows through.

“This is part of our approach to build donor confidence in our financing and budgetary processes. We did this because we found that we were not accessing climate finances.

To deal with the issue at the regional level, the just concluded ADB finance ministers meeting in Tonga, agreed to set up taskforce to look at ways of improving our financial systems because of the stringent requirements of accessing climate financing.

“We have difficulties accessing these funds because of the different requirements at the bilateral, regional and multilateral level. These funds are not getting into the country for project activities.

“This is where we will need the support of regional organisations, who can use their networks and relationships with development partners to access these funding mechanisms, said Minister Brown.

The role of political leadership in supporting the development of the new regional integrated strategy and its implementation at the regional, national and community level is critical to its success.

The High Level Dialogue is intended to provide decision makers with an insight into how they can lead and support national integration of CC and DRM.

Q&A with Dr Jimmie Rodgers, Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS: http://www.pina.com.fj/index.php?p=pacnews&m=pacnews

9 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is convening with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the UNISDR, the historical regional meeting to consider a proposed regional strategy framework on climate change and disaster risk reduction

SPC Director General, Dr Jimmie Rodgers discusses with PACNEWS Editor, Makereta Komai, the role and responsibilities on some misconceptions about the roles and responsibilities of the new framework.

PREVIEW below – for the full Q and A feature please visit: http://www.pina.com.fj/?p=pacnews&m=read&o=44748498551db3e9daba4bc2008305

MK: In your opening address, you emphasised the point ‘that it’s about people and not us.’ Please explain.

Dr Rogers: I think that is a very important point. For me one of the things I struggle with at SPC is that we don’t emphasise about the organisation but what the organisation does for the people that we serve. We are not perfect and it will take us time to understand that. To move forward, discussions like this should be about what is the impact on the people and people would need to have to position ourselves to achieve that goal. If that means loving each other to death so be it! We are getting better – it’s not perfect but we will get there. We have a working relationship with SPREP. The two CEOS meet regularly and with the senior managers and we have agreed that within the next few weeks we will meet formally with the two high- level consultants to review our next steps.

Pacific Region begins the first Joint Meeting on Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable

By Sini Latu, Tonga Broadcasting Commission: http://www.tonga-broadcasting.net

8 July 2012, Nadi, Fiji - The joint meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable has begun.

This is the first time in the region and internationally for such a joint meeting to take place.

The meeting’s theme is “Strengthening Resilience: An Integrated Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change for the Pacific”.

It started with a traditional ceremony held by the host country – Fiji – and chief guest Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Kuita Vaipulu who is also the Minister for Infrastructure.

Speaking on behalf of the people attending the joint meeting the Deputy Prime Minister was confident that all Pacific island nations and territories will stand together to see that the outcome of the deliberations will be done and that they will all benefit from it.

He’s also confident that delegations will share whatever they have learnt and experience with other countries – saying that no matter how small or big a country is in the Pacific, it is still affected one way or the other.

In delivering the Opening Address Fiji’s Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum – emphasized, that International communities should start acting on climate change issues and lessen the talk.

He says that there needs to be a jointly arranged global act to tackle the problem before it is too late – like it is with the Pacific’s case.

The region should also try to assess the risks and put in place concrete measures to deal with Climate Change and its impact on our people.

The main objective of the joint meeting is to progress discussions, commitment and combine efforts to develop an integrated strategy climate change and disaster risk management. This process is commonly referred to as the Joint Roadmap.

It is believed that the integrated approach will be more effective in reducing the risks of Disaster and Climate Change.

The Opening Addresses were given by the Director General of SPC – Dr Jimmie Rogers, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction – Margareta Wahlstrom, and David Sheppard – the Director General for SPREP.

Joining the Joint meeting are ministers, other political leaders, civil society groups, private sectors, national and local governments, and community representatives, donors, development partners and many more.

American Samoa to avoid fish extinction

By Asenati Taugasolo Semu, Press Secretariat of the Government of Samoa: http://www.savalinews.com

9 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - Coral bleaching and fish extinction are some of the issues on American Samoa’s agenda.

This was revealed by American Samoa’s Head of the National Meteorology Services, Leilua Mase Akapo in an interview today.

“Global warming has caused widespread coral bleaching in the territory,” he said.

Many villages in American Samoa, according to Leilua, are involved in marine biodiversity conservation projects that prohibit fishing in selected areas for a period of two years.
“These are efforts by our government and the community to preserve and replenish the coral reefs and avoid fish extinction in the future.

“There have been some very positive outcomes with these projects and the villages are very happy with it.”

He said they have a coral monitoring conservation strategy put in place to save their coral reefs.

Leilua is a representative of the territory at the Joint Meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management & Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Fiji this week.
“I’m beginning to see the many positive aspects of this meeting that could benefit American Samoa like other Pacific countries,” said Leilua.
“Many of our people in the territory do not understand about the many issues that are being discussed at these regional meetings.

“I’m interested in the process of the roadmap discussed this week and I will see if there is anything in there that could benefit our territory. I will return to American Samoa and give an update of the meeting to see if we can fit into any of these processes.”

Leilua was referring to the integrated strategy process that combines functions of the Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change.

Leilua said he was fortunate to be here because many people in American Samoa do not understand what goes on in these meetings.

PCCR Chair delivers outcomes to Joint Climate Change and Disaster Meeting

By Evan Wasuka, freelance reporter, Editor, Pacific Media Team 2013
9 July, 2013, Nadi, Fiji - Good science must build on traditional knowledge and it must be made available to those who need it on the ground such as managers dealing with the impacts of climate change said Esala Nayasi, Director, Political and Treaties, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Fiji also the Chair of the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable.

He told the Joint Meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform For Disaster Risk Management & Pacific Climate Change Roundtable meeting in Nadi, that this was one of the key issues raised at the PCCR last week.

The PCCR is supported by the Government of Switzerland, a key partner for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and also supported the 2011 and 2009 PCCR events. Support is also provided by Australia, Germany and the European Union.

Nayasi said initiatives such as Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science Adaptation Planning Program (PACCSAP) and the Climate Change Portal were practical ways of delivering scientific information where needed.

Last week the PCCR heard about positive adaptation and exciting mitigation initiatives taking place in the region.

“It is important to get the balance right between adaptation and mitigation, and also balance within adaptation between infrastructure based options and nature based options, with a need to increase our focus on practical ecosystem based approaches such as we have heard about in Choiseul province in Solomon Islands. This focus enables win-win outcomes on climate change and nature conservation.”

Other issues raised at the PCCR include the need for heightened urgency on sea level rise and action at international and national levels to reduce greenhouse gases.

"We are the smallest emitters of greenhouses gases but the first to be impacted."

On the integration of climate change and disaster risk management, Nayasi said this had to occur at national level to work.

"In order for the integrated strategy to be robust, the process by which we get there must be country driven. In other words it must be led by the countries themselves."

Recommendations from PCCR to the Joint Meeting:

• To recognise that adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change remains a key priority for the region;

• To acknowledge and take into consideration the lessons learned from the implementation of the Pacific Island Framework for Action on Climate Change (PIFACC) and other
relevant instruments;

• To maintain the leadership and country-driven approach by Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTS);

• To recognize that the Roadmap process be regionally coordinated in order to ensure thorough consultation and full support and implementation with all PICTS such that they are at the forefront of the Roadmap process;

• To recognize that there are commonalities between aspects of climate change and disaster risk management and that efficiencies can be generated through joint efforts;

• To further recognize, there remain needs in climate change and disaster risk management that should be considered and addressed through separate processes ;

• To draw on lessons from national, sub-national and community level experiences in integrating DRM and CCA, such as the Joint National Action Plans (JNAPs) and national
development strategies;

• To urge development partners to provide continued support to the Roadmap process;

• To recognise the value of joint meetings for the Roadmap.

Climate Change and Disasters, the Pacific ‘s biggest sustainable development challenges

9 July 2012, Nadi, Fiji - Climate change and disasters are the two most biggest sustainable development challenges for the Pacific region.

In the Pacific, there have been positive progress in dealing with these development challenges, said Sefanaia Nawadra, the director Environmental Monitoring & Governance (EMG) Division for the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Nawadra said governments have made commitments to strengthen development effectiveness through peer reviews, citing the Cairns Compact as the best example of that commitment.

“There is also commitment to merge climate change and disaster risk management, said Nawadra.

At the highest level, sustainable development and climate change are managed by central government. There is also an increase in government pledges to shift to renewable energy and significant commitments to ocean conservation.

While the Pacific region has progressed in dealing with these two issues in some integrated way, the reality remains that they are dependent on overseas aid for their national development priorities.

“The proportion of contribution of ODA to GNI has generally increased in Pacific Islands Countries. With this, there are the challenges of donor harmonization, aid effectiveness, and aid dependency which are very difficult to manage, said Nawadra.

“More than two thirds Pacific Island Developing States, 10 percent of their gross national income (GNI) comes from overseas development assistance (ODA) while three PSIDS rely on 40 percent of ODA for their GNI.

“At the same time, there is a greater dependency on fossil fuel in the Pacific. Human capacity is significantly limiting. Coupled with NCD crisis, migration of skilled workers, youth bulge in population are realities in the Pacific.”

Pacific Leaders have called for the rationalisation and integration of many of the parallel processes that collectively set the global agenda. These are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire in 2015 and the Rio+20 proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Many of our small island countries struggle to deal with the multitude of international agreements, policy commitments and related implementation and reporting requirements.

For the Pacific, the third global conference for Small Island Developing States conference in Samoa in 2014 will help distill Pacific priorities for the new Post 2015 agenda

“But we should also include missing targets in the post-2015 agenda, said Nawadra

The SIDS Conference hosted by Samoa in 2014 will be convened from 01-05 September next year.

Missing beach in Majuro restores passion for the islands

By Bill Jaynes, The Kaselehlie Press: http://www.kpress.info/
9 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - Canita Rilometo Swigert, a trainer on disaster risk management with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Pohnpei and the Marshall Islands is attending the Joint meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable. It is her first time to have attended a Pacific Climate Change event and she excitedly talks about all the people she is meeting, the connections she is making, and all that she is learning that she can take back home with her.

Just over two years ago she rediscovered a passion for the islands and her people that she had long forgotten that she had. Before she went to work for the International Organization for Migration (IOM)in 2011 CanitaRilometoSwigert held several jobs including a 20 year stint in the U.S. Army.

She says that when she was younger she was passionate about the environment and about island issues but when she left the Marshall Islands the pressures of everyday living superceded.

“My friends used to laugh at me,” she said, “because whenever we walked to school I always picked up trash on the beach. Whenever I had a backpack you could be sure there would be trash in it.”

She also started a youth group in Majuro. One of the many responsibilities the youth group took on was to cleanup trash from a beach near the airport. 20 years later it was that beach that brought her passion for the islands and its people back.

“When I first went to work for IOM I was just worried about learning what I needed to teach,” she said. “I said to myself, ‘I was in the Army. I can do this job’” but then IOM sent her to Majuro to teach ninth graders there. While there, she went to visit what she had come to think of as her beach. “When I saw what I saw there it changed everything for me,” she exclaimed. “It wasn’t there. The beach was gone. We cleaned that beach and we planted trees there but it’s gone,” she lamented.

It was an epiphany for her.

Candida is a trainer for CADRE, which is an acronym for Climate Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Education. CADRE is an information campaign to raise awareness in FSM and RMI communities of the risks of natural disasters and climate change and also to help communities to develop disaster risk plans.

Canita is responsible for working alongside school teachers to teach a series of 12 lesson plans to eighth graders in selected schools in Pohnpei and to 9th graders in selected schools in the RMI. So far, over 1400 children have taken the course on Climate Change Adaptation, and Disaster Risk Reduction.

She also assists in conducting community based hazard risk assessments in selected communities

Disaster risk assessment teams go into communities and conduct risk assessments. They then work with the community to help them come up with their own adaptation measures and emergency plans. So far 13 communities have completed community based, participatory Hazard Vulnerability Capacity Mapping exercises. They have also developed local early action plans on how to increase community resilience.

What the IOM CADRE Program won’t do is to swoop in and directly implement the actions plans. That will be the responsibility of the communities themselves. They will, however, provide support to 20 communities to implement the community-based local early action plans.

Canita works only in Pohnpei and RMI but the CADRE program is also in operation in Kosrae, Chuuk, and Yap. Australian AID provided 100 percent of the funding for the three year program which is scheduled to conclude in 2015.

Canita says that she hopes that governments in both countries will want to continue the program when it ends. She said that she has had a few conversations along those lines with people in high places that she finds encouraging and she will continue to advocate for it.

Canita has also involved herself in community issues that have nothing to do with her job but everything to do with who she is and the passion that was restored to her because of a missing beach in Majuro.

Words of Samoan Ambassador echoed at Pacific Meeting

By Asenati Taugasolo Semu, Press Secretariat of the Government of Samoa: http://www.savalinews.com

8 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - A phrase by Samoa’s Ambassador to the United Nation, Afioga Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia was quoted at a major Pacific climate and disaster meeting in Nadi.

The phrase, “No one has a monopoly on new ideas”, was quoted by the Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, David Sheppard in his opening statement at the Joint Meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Management & Pacific Climate Change Roundtable which officially opened this morning.

Sheppard in his speech emphasised the importance of sharing experiences and knowledge through an integrated approach.

“As Ambassador Feturi of Samoa once mentioned, "No-one has a monopoly on new ideas" - the more we can get together, share experience, develop synergies, the better the outcomes will be for the countries and territories of the Pacific.

The Pacific Islands region is said to be creating history by being the first region in the world to unite to develop and integrated approach to address climate change and disaster risk challenges through an integrated regional framework to replace the current Pacific Islands Framework for Adaptation (PIFACC) and the Regional Disaster Risk Management Framework for Action by 2015.

An agreement between the two parties and the regional intergovernmental mechanisms was initiated in 2011, in their joint effort to reduce the vulnerability of communities to hazards by improving the ability to better anticipate, resist, prepare for, respond to and recover from their impacts.

This week, over 400 participants from across the region that include political leaders, civil society, private sector, government representatives, donors, development partners and the scientific community are deliberating in discussions, events and presentations while formulating the initial process of this important roadmap.

Also here to observe and share experiences are representatives of the Samoa Tourism Authority, who will be observing this week’s events and dialogue.

“We are here to observe the initiatives in disaster risk management and climate change at the regional level to help Samoa’s tourism sector with its efforts and projects, given the vulnerability of the tourism sector,” said Tourism Climate Change Project Coordinator, Amiaifolau Afamasaga Luatua.’

“It is a good opportunity to learn of how the Pacific is positioning itself in an integrated manner in preparing for disasters and associated impacts of climate change, to contribute to development plans of Samoa Tourism in the next five years.

“This is also a golden opportunity to help Samoa Tourism and Tourism Climate Change Taskforce and the wider tourism sector in implementing its climate change projects and most importantly it’s National Tourism Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.”

Luatua, who is here with the STA Manager of Planning and Development, Christina Leala-Gale said Samoa can also anticipate opportunities for the Small Islands Development States conference due in Samoa next year.

Representing Samoa at the Meeting is CEO for Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Taulealeausumai Laavasa Malua, ACEO, Filomena Nelson.

UN Disaster Office Commends Pacific initiative on disaster risk management and climate change

8 July, 2013 Nadi, Fiji - The head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) has commended the Pacific initiative to develop a regional plan to integrate disaster risk management and climate change.

Margareta Wahlstrom said the proposed regional strategy sets a precedent for other regions of the world to follow.

“The development of an integrated Pacific Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change into a single overarching policy framework by 2015 is an ambitious and necessary framework that will benefit millions of people and avert the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses.

In the Pacific, Samoa and Fiji recently suffered millions of dollars from Tropical Cyclone Evan that struck the two island nations in December last year.

“Samoa suffered in 29 percent loss to its GDP in 2012. Fiji suffered two grave floods with a total damage of FJ$200 million in a period of six months. The major losses to Fiji were for bridges, roads, agriculture and private homes, said Wahlstrom.

The head of the UN Disaster Office used her visit to Fiji to see first-hand some of the work disaster risk management work implanted by the Fijian Government.

‘”I have seen how Fiji is rapidly learning from the 2012 disaster and putting in place plans through an integrated rural development programme for mitigation of disaster losses through flooding.

“I was very impressed by this programme and its potential for addressing this important annual risk to Fiji’s population, said Wahlstrom.

Right now in Marshall Islands, Wahlstrom said, 6,700 people are in need of safe water due to drought and acute water shortage.

Outcomes of the regional integrated strategy, now called the ‘Roadmap’ will feed into regional position on global discussion on the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which both expire in 2015.

“2015 offers us, through our parallel but not well integrated processes to achieve a more unified direction for sustained and resilient development agenda that must be a shared agenda amongst all countries.

“The MDG 15 years agenda will come to a close in 2015 and there is work going on for the consideration of countries in a new development vision that may be expressed in sustainable development for all (SDGs) valid for all, explained Wahlstrom.

Sharing some findings from the 2013 Global Assessment Report on DRR recently launched by Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, the UNISDR head encouraged more collaboration in the Pacific between public and private sector in reducing risks and losses.

“How much the private sector feels the damage depends on government policies. However, as governments are unable to t pay for increasing damages and losses, its critical to engage businesses in preparedness and mitigation of losses, said Wahlstrom

More than a joint meeting

By Ben Kedoga, NBC PNG

8 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - The Pacific Island region once again showed its seriousness in addressing climate change and disasters.

Today, the 8th of July, 2013, marked the historical opening of the first Joint Meeting of the 2013 Platform For Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable at the Sofitel Resort in Nadi, Fiji.

Climate change experts within the region and abroad say this is the first globally, for any region in the world to actually develop an integrated approach to deal with disaster risks and climate change challenges.

To those, who have contributed to the staging of this meeting, it is more than just the global first, the 2013 Platform for disaster risk management and Pacific climate change roundtable in fact, signifies the success of many years of hard work by Pacific island countries with support from big countries within the region, stakeholders and partners to reach such a milestone in climate change responses within the region.

This was further emphasised by the Director General of the Secretariat of the South Pacific Community, SPC, Jimmie Rodgers this morning at the official opening of the four day meeting.

“This first joint session of the Pacific Climate Change roundtable and the Pacific Disaster Risk Management Platform brings together experts from the many sectors to begin a journey that will ultimately result in the Pacific Islands region setting the pace for such action globally,” Rodgers said.

He said such opportunities for PICs to engage in dialogue and to collectively influence agenda for change does not come often, thus the 2013 Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable has been seen as the opportune time to achieve this.

“The important thing is to bring our resources together with one common purpose and that is; what is the best way to integrate our approach to climate change and disaster risk management, so that collectively, from all parties we have one team that can position our region to move forward, we cannot miss this opportunity,” Rodgers added.

2013 Joint Meeeting of Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk and Climate Change Roundtable starts

By Daniel Namosuaia, Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com

8 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - The 2013 Joint meeting of the Pacific Joint Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable was opened by Fiji’s Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum in Nadi, Fiji today.

In his opening remarks Khaiyum said the challenges Pacific Island Countries and Territories face with climate change and disaster related issues is real and needs urgent attention and action.

“This meeting is about the need of the Pacific for an integrated approach to deal with climate change and disaster related issues.

Mr. Khaiyum said the Pacific needs to prepare for these challenges with a collective response at the regional, national and community levels despite the limited resources available.

“In formulating an integrated disaster risk management plan I urge you all to bear in mind some of the important principles to address the challenges we all face as Pacific nations.

“… our resources are limited, and we need a holistic approach of problem solving, that is practical affordable and involves a close partnerships between governments, business community and civil society.

“We also need to strike the balance between the urgent need to mitigate against the effects of climate change and the economic capability of the small islands states,” Khaiyum said.

Adding that the Pacific is clearly not to be blamed for global warming but are the victims of the big carbon emitters who under natural justice should carry the burden and problems that they have created.

He said the question on integrated response is the challenge that the Pacific face because of the massive destruction, crumpling economies and retarding of Pacific economies now happening because of the impacts of climate change.

The Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme David Sheppard reiterated that though Pacific countries only contribute 0.03% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, our countries are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea level rise.

“We are the first impacted and will be the first to go under,” Sheppard said.

He said Island countries are very vulnerable and have high levels of risk to both climate change and natural disasters.

“These issues make it critical that we combine our resources and expertise as responsible individual, institutional and corporate citizens of the Pacific islands region. The objectives of this meeting are not only very timely but also very crucial…we must integrate our responses if we are to effectively address the challenges of climate change and natural disasters in this century.”

Adding that actions are needed at all levels, from international to national.

Sheppard further stressed those International commitments on financing need to be met and delivered to countries now, and not just talked about.

“We must be forward looking. I urge all the presenters and those making interventions to heed this call, for us to not dwell too much on what we have done, well or otherwise, but to apply ourselves to discussing what needs to be doing to secure our future – as stated at Rio+20 –THE FUTURE WE ALL WANT.”

Meanwhile Director General of Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Dr Jimmie Rodgers highlighted that the convening of the meeting is an achievement and a milestone for the Pacific.

Dr Rodgers encouraged all experts who will participate, to utilise their expertise to take the Pacific forward to ensure that their decisions will lead to a Pacific community resilient to disasters and the impacts of climate change.

He stressed that understanding risks is crucial in managing climate change impacts.

Dr Rodgers said the best way forward is to integrated resources to collectively help position the region to move forward and make decisions that help protect the future of pacific people.

SPREP Director congratulates and challenges participants in historic regional meeting

By Bill Jaynes, The Kaselehlie Press: http://www.kpress.info/

8 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - SPREP’s Director General, David Sheppard addressed a large crowd of representatives from the Pacific Islands region this morning.
The joint meeting began with a traditional Fijian welcome ceremony.
It is the first meeting in the Pacific Region that has brought together the Disaster Risk Management fraternity and the climate change fraternity as well as the Pacific Meteorological Council as they move toward a Pacific framework on climate change that will be completed by the end of 2015.
Sheppard said that this meeting is also a historic first of its kind in the world.
“Although Pacific Countries only contribute .03% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, our countries are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea level rise,” he said.
“We are the first impacted and will be the first to go under.”
He said that during a conference in Japan last week Professor Pachauri, the Chairperson of the IPCC addressed the crowd and presented startling information. The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which consists of 1000 scientists from all parts of the globe. Sheppard said that Professor Pachauri told the conference attendees that the best estimates of the IPCC are that continued emissions would lead to temperature increases between 1.8 and 4 degrees Celsius and sea level rise will continue and accelerate.
Pachauri noted the urgent need for action at all levels, particularly from the global community, to reduce climate change.
“In our region, our leaders have continually reminded us of the urgency of climate change and that it is in fact an issue of national security,” Sheppard said.
“He congratulated the people of the Pacific region for their willingness to work together. “It again demonstrates as we have many times in the past that the Pacific is a region that is not afraid to lead and innovate,” he said. “This approach reflects the Pacific Way—of working together, of being innovative in the face of challenges, and developing ‘Pacific Solutions to Pacific problems.”
“Clearly the world is watching and our series of meetings sends a clear message that we must integrate our responses if we are to effectively address the challenges of climate change and natal disasters in this century.”
He listed three reasons why the Pacific should continue to integrate climate change adaptation actions with disaster risk management.
First, he said that while the current policy frameworks are separate Pacific leaders have directed that that an integrated approach should be applied at the regional level once the current frameworks expires in 2015.
Secondly, there is a great deal of experience and knowledge that must and can be shared through an integrated approach.
“As Ambassador Fetturi of Samoa once mentioned, ‘No one has a monopoly on new ideas’. The more was can get together, share experience, and develop synergies, the better the outcomes will be for the countries and territories of the Pacific,” Sheppard said.
“Third, a unified and effective strategy will support a stronger, more integrated and hopefully more effective case to be made by our Pacific representatives at international forums. This makes it imperative that we strengthen the links and conduits between those that represent us at the global level and those who work on the ground to implement climate and disaster related programs.”
“We must be forward looking. I urge all the presenters and those making interventions to heed this call, for us to not dwell too much on what we have done, well or otherwise, but apply ourselves to discussing what need to be done to secure our future—as stated at Rio+20 – The future we all want.”

Fiji's strategic alliance

By Halitesh Datt, Fiji TV

9 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office plans to implement a strategic alliance to better coordinate response in an event of natural disaster.

This alliance will form a synergy between the Disaster Office, the National Fire and Emergency service as well as police.

NDMO Director, Manasa Tagicakabau says this alliance is a result of some of the valuable lessons learnt from the three natural disasters that battered Fiji last year.

The alliance will ensure that the three emergency services providers work collaboratively when need arises.
Manasa Tagicakabau- Director- Fiji National Disaster Management Office

However there has been no confirmation as to when this alliance will be in place.
NDMO has discussed this plan with the three emergency services.

Manasa Tagicakabau- Director- NDMO

UK supports regional climate change measures

By Halitesh Datt, Fiji TV: http://fijitv.info/

9 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - As Pacific leaders continue to lobby developed countries to assist the region in climate change mitigation programmes and to reduce their carbon emission, the United Kingdom has shown its strong support for the region.

Already the United Kingdom has committed $US75 million to assist the Pacific with mitigation which is made available to multilateral organisations and partners.

The United Kingdom has committed 2.9 billion pounds to an international climate fund, half of which is spent on adaptation.

The United Kingdom is also working with Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, NAMA, to assist the region to manage the impacts of climate change.

 Steven Chandler- Acting British High Commissioner to Fiji

The UK government is also planning to assist and train climate negotiators from the region to negotiate at the global front especially at the UNFCCC meetings.

Domestically, U.K has set an ambitious target of reducing its carbon emissions by as much as 80 percent by 2050.

Steven Chandler - Acting British High Commissioner to Fiji