Filling the Gaps and Building Resilience
The key outcomes of the National Summit for Building Resilience to Climate Change held in Labasa from October 23 to 25, is a fusion of the different challenges, opinions, recommendations and ideas on best practices on building resilience identified and agreed to at the Summit by varied participants including community leaders, practitioners, educators, communicators and managers.
The Summit is believed to be the country’s most comprehensive setting for discussions on climate change.
It’s key outcomes reflect the crosscutting issues of climate change that include health concerns, food and water security, relocation, cultural inheritance, good climate diction, weather bulletins and communicating climate change fitted into three main thematic areas; mainstreaming, education and training, and adaptation and mitigation.
Corresponding solutions were also identified.
WWF South Pacific National Co-ordinator for the AusAid Building Resilience to Climate Change project Stephanie Robinson said to be meaningful, actions must now ensue.
“It’s a step in the right direction; we have to follow up with action because it’s only when we see action can we become more resilient,” Robinson said.
Some of the more significant challenges identified include duplication of interventions to climate change that results in resource wastage and the need to have an integrated approach in climate change projects.
As the solution to that, the Climate Change Unit within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation will develop, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, protocols and outline procedures for government ministries and organisations to follow in the planning, development, implementation and monitoring of climate change interventions.
Climate change issues will also be mainstreamed into all government ministries corporate and business plans.
Improvements to national health will be a focus area with health impact assessments mainstreamed into climate change projects.
Also identified is the need to engage women, youth groups, marginalised groups and people living with chronic health conditions in the whole project/program cycle from design right through to monitoring and evaluation stages.
A database and web portal will also be developed as a repository for data on climate change and disaster risk reduction management encouraging information sharing.
In the area of climate finance, the CCU with partners will develop mechanisms and strategies to access international funding for projects, a Climate Change Tax is being considered and communities will receive capacity building training on accessing climate funding.
Climate change knowledge will also be incorporated into all primary and secondary school curriculums, the climate change Information Handbook to be standardised, information to be widely circulated in the vernaculars, a climate change glossary to be created, tertiary institutions encouraged to incorporate climate change into programs and courses and Government to make climate change a priority area for scholarships.
At the Summit, there was consensus that things like uncontrolled clearing of land for development and agriculture, poor logging practices, uncontrolled deforestation of mangroves for development purposes, lack of research and adaptation actions to reduce non-communicable diseases all undermine the country’s efforts in adapting to climate change.
Solutions range from implementing adaptation projects using the ‘ridge to reef’ approach, encouraging local communities to cultivate traditional crops and use traditional preservation methods to address food security to stopping the destruction and clearance of mangrove forests.
Relocation issues will be included in the National Climate Change Policy with a commitment to explore more opportunities for funding.
Mitigation measures like the use of energy efficient technologies will be encouraged nationally.
There is also a commitment to seeing that such technologies, for example, renewable sources of energy like solar panels are more affordable.
Robinson said: “The Summit provided the directions that we must now work towards as a nation.”
The Summit was co-coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation and WWF South Pacific, and supported by GIZ, the University of the South Pacific’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (USP PACE-SD), Department of Environment, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Primary Industries and Live and Learn.