Climate experts and elders from eleven Pacific island countries gathered in Apia, Samoa earlier this month from 12 to 14 June, to share their knowledge and expertise in the collection, monitoring, storage and communicating traditional knowledge on weather and climate.
Opening the workshop, Ms Tagaloa Cooper Halo, Director of the Climate Change Resilience programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), spoke about the importance of traditional knowledge and its role in building community resilience. “Communities with strong traditional knowledge have been shown to be resilient to extreme events. Resilience to climate related extreme events in the Pacific can be enhanced when traditional forecasts and responses are integrated with modern contemporary approaches.”
In his opening remarks, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Government of Samoa, reiterated this message and stressed the importance of collecting and using traditional knowledge on climate and weather. “There is a lot of knowledge that can be translated into science, it is this knowledge and language that we should use to engage the communities and enhance the decision making process of communities.”
The traditional knowledge regional workshop was an opportunity to bring together community members, National Meteorological Services, representatives from cultural centres, disaster management officers, non-government organizations and faith based organizations from around the region who are already working in this space and collecting traditional knowledge indicators associated with forecasting of extreme events.
“It is not enough to collect and know what traditional climate and weather indicators are, it is also important to know what the indicators are telling us, and how to respond and prepare ourselves once we see these indicators,” said Mr Peteli Pese, a volunteer for the Samoa Traditional Knowledge, weather and climate monitoring network.
Participants of the workshop were pleased with the results of the workshop and saw the role of traditional knowledge in enhancing early warning systems and how best it can be incorporated with modern forecasting tools to plan better and respond to natural disasters.
The workshop was funded under the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Humanitarian Funding, through the Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac), implemented by SPREP and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).
Other important activities on traditional knowledge for the Pacific region that have been done under the Climate and Weather Traditional Knowledge project include: the development of the User Guides on Climate Traditional Knowledge data collection, monitoring and forecast integration, as well as a number of paper published in scientific journals co-authored with national meteorological services directors, traditional knowledge leads and partners.
The COSPPac regional workshop on the role of Traditional Knowledge in building community resilience to climate extremes and geo-hazards, was held in Apia, Samoa from 12 to 14 June, 2018. For more information visit the Pacific Met Desk website at www.pacificmet.net or www.sprep.org.