Pacific Islanders have long depended on the marine environment as a vital part of their social and economic development.

The majority of Pacific islands are atolls and small islands surrounded by coral reefs, where the principal targets are coastal fish species associated with coral reefs and lagoons. However rising populations, limited land areas and low profiles of atolls have increased the vulnerability of communities and governments to deal with the effects of climate change.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) today signed two financing agreements, both committed to assisting coastal communities to adapt to climate change effects and to improve conservation and sustainable use of oceanic fisheries resources in the Pacific Island region.
SPC Director-General Dr Jimmie Rodgers and GIZ Country Director (Philippines and the Pacific) Mr Robert Kressirer, signed the finance agreements at SPC's regional office in Suva, Fiji. Together, they provided ? 700,000 to two separate projects that will:

- assist coastal communities to adapt to climate change effects through a holistic approach covering marine based natural resources in the Pacific region; and

- increase the capacity of Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) to negotiate adaptations to climate change through the provision of advice to SPC members on the likely change in tuna stocks and distribution by building on and extending model development.

Under the agreements, the two intergovernmental organisations will work closely to ensure enhanced delivery of services to their twelve common members: Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

'Starting in 2012, SPC and GIZ will support the implementation of the community-based management activities of mutual interest, including, but not limited to, infrastructure and human resources capacity development, which have an impact on the fisheries and agriculture sectors,' said Dr Rodgers.

The two organisations are committed to developing greater synergies and cooperation with planned and existing activities to provide better delivery of services at national and regional levels.

'SPC and GIZ will work together to help address the priorities of Pacific Island countries and territories in marine and land resource sectors, with the focus on climate change,' he said.

Mr Kressirer added, 'The GIZ project regional national planning workshops conducted in July 2011 under the 'Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Islands Region' project showed that countries identified the need for adaptation to climate change effects as a key focal area.' This programme will focus on working with communities to identify locations to establish pilot sites and trial adaptation techniques.

Director of SPC's Division of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Mr. Mike Batty believes that the: 'SPC/GIZ programme will strength the fisheries sector in PICTs by supporting successful adaptations of strategies to protect coastal communities from the effects of climate change and provide scientific data, modeling and advice on oceanic fisheries to assist SPC member governments and regional organisations. The challenges brought about by climate change demand a coordinated response from our region, working under one overarching approach to achieve one common goal - the sustained resilience of Pacific Island communities to climate change.'