Climate Change Resilience
8 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - SPREP's Director General, David Sheppard addressed a large crowd of representatives from the Pacific Islands region this morning.

The joint meeting began with a traditional Fijian welcome ceremony.

Hon. Mr Samiu Kuita Vaipulu DPM for Tonga and Minister for Infrastructure copy
Hon. Mr Samiu Kuita Vaipulu, DPM for Tonga and Minister for Infrastructure

It is the first meeting in the Pacific Region that has brought together the Disaster Risk Management fraternity and the climate change fraternity as well as the Pacific Meteorological Council as they move toward a Pacific framework on climate change that will be completed by the end of 2015.

Sheppard said that this meeting is also a historic first of its kind in the world.

"Although Pacific Countries only contribute .03% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, our countries are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea level rise," he said.

"We are the first impacted and will be the first to go under."

He said that during a conference in Japan last week Professor Pachauri, the Chairperson of the IPCC addressed the crowd and presented startling information. The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which consists of 1000 scientists from all parts of the globe. Sheppard said that Professor Pachauri told the conference attendees that the best estimates of the IPCC are that continued emissions would lead to temperature increases between 1.8 and 4 degrees Celsius and sea level rise will continue and accelerate.

Pachauri noted the urgent need for action at all levels, particularly from the global community, to reduce climate change.

"In our region, our leaders have continually reminded us of the urgency of climate change and that it is in fact an issue of national security," Sheppard said.

"He congratulated the people of the Pacific region for their willingness to work together. "It again demonstrates as we have many times in the past that the Pacific is a region that is not afraid to lead and innovate," he said. "This approach reflects the Pacific Way—of working together, of being innovative in the face of challenges, and developing 'Pacific Solutions to Pacific problems."

"Clearly the world is watching and our series of meetings sends a clear message that we must integrate our responses if we are to effectively address the challenges of climate change and natal disasters in this century."

He listed three reasons why the Pacific should continue to integrate climate change adaptation actions with disaster risk management.

First, he said that while the current policy frameworks are separate Pacific leaders have directed that that an integrated approach should be applied at the regional level once the current frameworks expires in 2015.

Secondly, there is a great deal of experience and knowledge that must and can be shared through an integrated approach.

"As Ambassador Fetturi of Samoa once mentioned, 'No one has a monopoly on new ideas'. The more was can get together, share experience, and develop synergies, the better the outcomes will be for the countries and territories of the Pacific," Sheppard said.

"Third, a unified and effective strategy will support a stronger, more integrated and hopefully more effective case to be made by our Pacific representatives at international forums. This makes it imperative that we strengthen the links and conduits between those that represent us at the global level and those who work on the ground to implement climate and disaster related programs."

"We must be forward looking. I urge all the presenters and those making interventions to heed this call, for us to not dwell too much on what we have done, well or otherwise, but apply ourselves to discussing what need to be done to secure our future—as stated at Rio+20 – The future we all want."

The Joint Meeting of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable is from 8 – 11 July and is jointly organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme. The meeting is hosted by the Government of Fiji.

Related article: SPREP Director-General, David Sheppard's Opening Statement