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Tonga contributes to facilitate the development of a regional research strategy for Pacific Islands Climate Change Science and Services

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18th April, 2018 The Pacific is a region that is highly vulnerable to natural disasters. The recent devastation of Tropical Cyclone Gita and Tropical Cyclone Keni in the Kingdom of Tonga and in on Fiji re -emphasizes the vulnerability of the Pacific’s to this natural hazard.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is hosting a workshop titled “Pacific Climate Change Science and Services: Strategic Approach to Research Capacity Development, Delivery and Application Regional Workshop”.

The workshop is being jointly convened by SPREP and CSIRO funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government as part of a broader engagement to facilitate outreach of Pacific Australia Climate Change Science Adaptation Planning Programme on climate change science and services to key Pacific Island stakeholders.

The objectives of the workshop are to facilitate the development of a regional research strategy for Pacific Islands Climate Change Science and Services, undertaking preliminary consultation with key stakeholders as part of the development of this strategy, and to identify opportunities for enhanced coordination, collaboration and implementation in relation to Pacific Islands Climate Change Science and Services.

Speaking to the representative from the Tonga Meteorological Services, Ms.Seluvaia Finaulahi stated

“Research is crucial for the development of any sector. We have to carry out research to be able to reach new heights in any area of life. It’s the same with us in the meteorology community. If we don’t carry out research we will not reach our full potential in terms of being able to provide the best meteorological advice possible to our users. Our Meteorological Services in the pacific have always struggled with carrying out research. Due to limited resources our focus is mainly on the provision of services. We rely heavily on universities and research institutions to do this for us and more often than not it is not in our best interest. We must carry our research with the user’s needs as the main incentive. It is our hope that this new research strategy will help remedy some of these challenges.”

As Tonga was inflicted by Tropical Cyclone Gita after hammering Samoa beginning of this year, Finaulahi added,

“Communicating the information was important, timely and easy to understand warnings were important, means of communication was important and we ensured it was accessible and people get the right information from us but is also needs the support from the sectors and the community to cooperate in order to ensure the safety preparations of the Tongan communities during natural disasters.

I appreciate the opportunity I get to participate in this workshop which offered very important and helpful information about this strategy we will be working on with other climate colleagues and stakeholders from the Pacific.”

On statement by Mr. Siotame Fonua, a Fisherman and Tour Operator for the ‘Atataa Royal Sunset Resort he said, “I’ve come here to ensure that the research that these smart scientist are and will be doing into the future are done with the needs of people like me as their main driving force. I need to catch fish to feed my family. This activity is 100% dependent on the air and sea conditions. The Met Service is OK but sometimes the information I am looking for from them is not there. I would like to know what the weather and the ocean conditions will be next week and the week after that so I can plan. And sometimes fishing is no good. Maybe the Met Services knows why?..I don’t know. But if they don’t, I want them to do some good research to be able to tell me where and when to go fishing go get the most fish. The private sector is key to the development of any country, the Met Service and scientific community should direct their research to improving production from climate and ocean dependent sectors”

In the statement made by the Director General of SPREP, Leota Kosi Latu the gathering this week’s Workshop on Pacific Climate Change Science and Services: Strategic Approach to Research Capacity Development, Delivery and Application is very timely.

“The next couple of days are designed to promote active exchange between yourselves in- order to draw out research priorities as a good start towards the development of a regional research strategy for Pacific Islands Climate Change Science and Services,” said Director General, Leota Kosi Latu

“Human- induced Climate change continues to influence the natural variability of the climate system; and have adjusted the frequency and severity of the impacts we face.”

He elaborated, “To respond to these changes; provision of good timely science information well in advance to support decision making is vital to the sustainable development of our region.”

“The region has come a long way in terms of climate change. We recognize climate change as the biggest threat to our small islands and our way of life in the Pacific,”

“I encourage everyone to look at the priorities for research capacity and development on climate change services at the national level as well as discuss the role of traditional knowledge.

“The strategy that you start laying the foundation this week should be inclusive of all partners (research organisations, universities, national government (NMHSs), crops and UN organisations) and should be relevant and linked to regional and national frameworks and should be attractive for donors to invest in it.

“I would like to again emphasise that the discussions this week should be the beginning of a process that will enable participation and contribution from everyone in the region to ensure that we have a strategy that is inclusive and reflects the needs and priorities of the region.”

This workshop is scheduled from the 16th – 20th of April at Taumeasina Island Resort.

Representing Tonga at the meeting were the Government of Tonga’s Senior Climatologist, Mrs. Seluvaia Finaulahi and Mr. Siotame Fonua, a Fisherman and Representative of the Private Sector from the ‘Atataa Royal Sunset Resort.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 April 2018 12:15 )  

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