Dr Glen Fatupaito
Climate Change Resilience

18 March 2024, Apia Samoa - The second stage of a fellowship which exists to develop leadership potential and stimulate lasting change in Pacific communities and beyond, by empowering a global network of talented individuals through high-quality education experiences, is underway in Samoa.
Fifteen policy makers and researchers from the Pacific and Southeast Asia are gathering at Vailima, Samoa, the home of the Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC) hosted at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) for the second stage of the Advancing Climate, Health, and Equity Outcomes through Local Action in the Indo-Pacific programme, from 18 – 22 March 2024. 
The programme is co-hosted by Melbourne Climate Futures and the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health in partnership with the Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC). It is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Australia Awards Initiative.
The first stage of the fellowship, hosted at the University of Melbourne Australia in 2023, saw the fellows immerse in a six-week leadership, capacity development, knowledge exchange and networking programme. A key part of the first stage was discussions with a mentor on the development of a policy relevant to their local context to be implemented post-programme, focussing on three priority development areas of climate change, health and gender equality and social inclusion.  
For the second stage of the programme, the fellows will present their Climate Change and health policy and practice outputs implementation plans post programme. They will also develop health-specific funding proposals and prioritised research for publication.

Fellowship Stage 2
Ms Litiana Talake, of Tuvalu, who works as the Adaptation Policy Adviser for Tuvalu’s Climate Change Department, said the opportunity to build her capacity so she can improve her service to her community is extremely important. Tuvalu, like all Pacific countries, is at the forefront of climate change impacts where the spectrum of issues range from loss of land, more severe flooding and droughts to health related issues such as premature deaths, malnutrition and mental health to name a few. 
"I'm really excited to be part of this fellowship which I know will equip me with the skills and knowledge that will allow me to do a better job in assisting our people deal with the impacts of climate change we are already experiencing,” she said. “This will help me support the development of policies and work towards climate change adaptation that will positively impact our people in Tuvalu as we look to address the impacts of climate change on health, gender and social inclusion.”
Fellows like Ms Talake bring a diversity of lived experience and expertise from their climate and health roles in government and academia across the Pacific and South East Asia, from the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
“As many of you know, our Pacific leaders have affirmed climate change as the single greatest existential threat facing the Blue Pacific. This emergency threatens livelihoods, security and wellbeing of our Pacific peoples and ecosystems,” said Dr. Glen Fatupaito, Acting Director of Samoa’s Ministry of Health, who delivered the keynote address.  He lamented what he described as “limited engagement across sectors” and “the lack of emphasis placed on climate related health considerations in many Pacific countries.” 
“A critical component to climate resilient health systems is a prepared health workforce with an understanding across Government ministries and sectors about the potential health impacts and co-benefits of climate influencing policies and implementation through programmes such as our programme today,” added Dr. Fatupaito.

Dr Kathryn
Professor Dr. Kathryn Bowen, Deputy Director, Melbourne Climate Futures; and Professor of Climate, Environment and Global Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, acknowledged the Government of Australia for supporting such important work for the survival of Pacific communities.
"Our role as stewards is fundamental to every scale we work in - we all have a role to play as leaders in this space and stewards, no matter what level - family, work, community,” she said. “I want to thank DFAT for seeing the potential in these initiatives, it’s a culmination of a lot of effort and it’s wonderful to see that we are embarking on the second phase here in Samoa that allows fellows to reconnect with us and each other.”

Tagaloa Cooper
Ms Tagaloa Cooper, SPREP’s Director of Climate Change Resilience, echoed the sentiments about our roles as custodians of the planet and the Pacific environment, and left the fellows with a challenge.
“We are all custodians of this planet and have a responsibility to ensure it is safeguarded and going forward I know that health and climate change will grow to be a bigger issue,” said Ms Cooper. "I hope you take what you learn here when you return home and beyond your workspace because the challenges of climate change are larger than our ability to survive. You hold now and opportunity and a responsibility to take what you gain here and translate it to tangible actions on the ground so you can make a difference in to ensure our communities survive the impacts of climate change.”

The Australia Awards Fellowship program on climate change, health and equity serves as an example of an effective model for regional capacity building on critical issues of importance for regional stability. To learn more about the ‘Advancing Climate, Health, and Equity Outcomes through Local Action in the Indo-Pacific’ Australia Awards program and our visiting Fellows, visit the Climate CATCH Lab’s website for updates
The Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC) is the regional Centre of excellence for climate change information, research, capacity building, and innovation, hosted at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia, Samoa. As a Centre of excellence, the PCCC is mandated to provide practical information, support, and training to address the adaptation and mitigation priorities of Pacific Island communities.
The PCCC is underpinned by strong partnerships with Pacific Governments, applied research institutions, donors, civil society, and the private sector. The PCCC is a partnership between the Governments of Japan and Samoa. It is funded under grant aid through JICA for Samoa as the host country of SPREP. Additionally, the Centre receives generous funding and support from the Governments of New Zealand, and Australia.
For more information about the PCCC please contact [email protected].