Wednesday 19th May, 2011 Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Suva, FijiSpeaking at the closing of the Vanuatu Climate Change Adaptation Strategy workshop in Port Vila, Acting Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Land Resources Division Inoke Ratukalou highlighted that the 2008 Pacific Forum meeting in Niue had declared that climate change should no longer be considered an environmental issue but should be treated as a development issue that is everyone's business.
To help Pacific Island countries and territories respond to climate change, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) concentrates its efforts on climate change adaptation issues whilst the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) focuses on policy issues, he said.
'SPC's involvement in the workshop is in line with its mission to help Pacific Island people position themselves to respond effectively to the challenges they face and make informed decisions about their future and the future they wish to leave for the generations that follow.'
He added that SPC's LRD is responsible for issues relating to land-based resources such as agriculture, land and forestry and is working in partnership with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) in the development of the first phase of the Adaptation to Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region (ACCPIR) project.
'The outcome of this workshop makes it clear that a shift is required in our attitudes to integrate climate change into all aspects of our work,' he said.
He pointed out that the workshop had resolved to put in place proper institutional infrastructure to guide climate change adaptation efforts.
'We need to also embrace traditional knowledge and culture; these are the basic foundation of our community's resilience to climate change,' Mr Ratukalou noted.
'Native peoples have lived for several hundred years or more in the islands and have accumulated valuable knowledge regarding how to survive natural hazards,' he said.
The Vanuatu workshop emphasised knowledge dissemination and awareness to enable people to better prepare for the effects of climate change, which are already being experienced in the Pacific.
'If we correct the way we do things now, I am sure we will be in a better position to meet the challenges resulting from climate change impacts in the future,' Mr Ratukalou said.
The new SPC-GIZ Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region (CCCPIR) project extends the work of ACCPIR to include the sectors of energy, tourism and education.
The new project also serves an expanded set of member countries: Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Samoa.