30 January 2024, Dubai – A side event held on the margins of the recent COP28 in Dubai focused on the use of geospatial technologies and methods in the Pacific region to address climate-related issues with a specific emphasis on understanding, mitigating, and adapting to the impacts of loss and damage to secure a resilient Pacific Community.
The side event was hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and featured a panel of country representatives and SPREP experts who deliberated on strategies for mitigating and adapting to impending climate change challenges.
SPREP’s Director General, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, highlighted the connection between geospatial solutions and climate challenges.
“As we embark on this crucial conversation, we recognise the increasingly urgent need for effective strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change and enhance our collective resilience,” said Mr Nawadra. “The interaction between geospatial solutions and climate challenges offers us a unique opportunity to leverage technology for informed decision-making, sustainable development, and proactive adaptation.”
The panel discussion highlighted the crucial role of stakeholders in bolstering climate resilience in Pacific Island nations. Furthermore, it highlighted GIS technology as a pivotal tool, empowering governments, organisations, and communities to make informed decisions, allocate resources efficiently, and collaborate effectively in addressing the challenges posed by climate change.
Ms Leba Gaunavinaka, a Geospatial Specialist with the Adaptation Unit of the Fiji Climate Change Division, said that as a tool, GIS has contributed to assessing the vulnerability of different areas and communities to climate change impacts in her country. GIS has also supported the development of adaptation and resilience strategies, she said.
She also shared the spatial applications relating to Fiji's work on loss and damage with a focus on comprehensive risk vulnerability assessments in the context of climate-induced planned relocation that is currently implemented for Fiji.
Mr Chanel Iroi, the Deputy Secretary Technical, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology Solomon Islands highlighted the geospatial support and work provided by SPREP under the Ensuring Resilient Ecosystems and Representative Protected Areas in the Solomon Islands (EREPA) project. He said Geospatial technology was used to address terrestrial biodiversity loss and ecosystem decline through the improved management of natural resources resulting in the creation of protected and conserved areas within four Key Biodiversity Areas.
Mr Sunny Kamuta Seuseu, Acting Manager for SPREP’s Climate Information Services for Resilient Development Planning in Vanuatu (VanKIRAP) project, discussed the case studies of how geospatial technology was utilised in Vanuatu through the project to provide technical support to the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change to better prepare Vanuatu’s policymakers and the public for a changing climate.
Mr Tavita Su’a - Systems Developer and Analyst for the Pacific Environment Portal, at SPREP discussed opportunities for shared data and interoperability to enhance cross-sector coordination through the regional and country platforms hosted and managed by SPREP.
He said SPREP ensures that geospatial data is made accessible through data portals developed to assist in the mapping and analysis of environmental information for environmental planning, forecasting, and reporting requirements at all levels, helping Pacific Island countries access their national environment datasets as well as tools that serve their environment information needs.
The side event was moderated by Mrs Vani Koroisamanunu, SPREP Environmental GIS Specialist who spoke about the expanse of the Pacific region (including its Exclusive Economic Zone boundaries) and the importance of updated spatial information using Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) in assessing and mitigating climate change impacts, combining data, mapping, and analytical tools.
The key outcomes from the talanoa focused on the awareness and technical GIS capacity of the Pacific Island countries at the national level and access to real-time spatial information addressing climate change issues through exploring practical and scalable solutions using geospatial technologies.
This will ensure that the integration of GIS in the Pacific has not only bolstered the region's capacity to monitor and respond to climate change but has also fostered cross-sectoral collaboration and community engagement, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable and resilient future for the Pacific peoples.
For more information on SPREP GIS projects and activities, please contact Mrs. Vani Koroisamanunu [email protected]