7 August 2019, Apia, Samoa - The journey of the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC) Vaka continues, with the 5th meeting of the PMC (PMC-5), under the theme of “Science to Services for a Resilient Pacific”, officially commencing this morning in Apia, Samoa.
The PMC-5 brings together representatives from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in the Pacific, as well as those from development partners such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the private sector, to strengthen climate and weather services in the Pacific.
Originally formed in 1993 in Vanuatu the gathering was called the Regional Meteorological Services Directors Meeting, it then became the Pacific Meteorological Council in 2011.
The Associate Minister for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa, Hon. Taefu Lemi Taefu, delivered the opening remarks on behalf of the Government of Samoa, and extended a warm welcome to the dignitaries and delegates who have travelled to Samoa from around the region for this important event.
“Statistics show that since 1950, extreme events have affected approximately 9.2 million people in the Pacific, 9,811 reported deaths, damages estimated at USD 3.2 billion, and we expect intensification of more extreme weather events, with the likelihood of more hydro-meteorological disasters,” said Hon Associate Minister Taefu.
“It is pleasing to see that after 26 years of hard work and commitment by the Pacific Meteorological Services we see significant progress and improvements in the science to better forecast extreme weather events, and predict future climate change projections with a high degree of accuracy to mitigate these impacts, reduce the risk and enhance the safety and well-being of our Pacific people.”
“I can see that much work lies ahead of the Council and its partners, and I wish you all the greatest of successes in your deliberations in the days ahead.”
The outgoing Chair of the PMC-4 and Director of the Solomon Islands Meteorological Services, Mr David Hiba Hiriasa, spoke on the journey of the Vaka since the last council meeting in Honiara in 2017.
“Nine years ago, when we built this new Vaka, which is the PMC in 2011 in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, we charted a clear navigational chart in the Pacific Island Meteorological Strategy on how we would sail the Pacific Ocean to ensure no one is left behind. I am privileged to have been the 4th Captain of this Vaka.”
The opening of the Pacific Met Council today was also the opportunity to pay tribute to and remember the late Mr Ravind Kumar by Mr Hiba Hiriasa and his colleagues.
“As we navigated our journey from Solomon Islands in 2017 to reach these beautiful shores of Apia in 2019, we have met challenges as well as relish moments of celebration. Along the way, I lost my running mate, Mr Ravind Kumar, former Director of Fiji’s Meteorological Services and Vice Chair of the PMC-4, who passed away suddenly in Fiji. The Council would like to acknowledge his invaluable contribution to our work over the years.”
Gender balance and equality in the Meteorological Sector was also highlighted during the official opening, with the Outgoing Chair welcoming two female crew members aboard the Vaka.
“We have often deliberated about our Vaka not being gender balanced, but since the last PMC, we now have two capable female crew members, Ms Esaline Garaebiti, Director of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Division, and Ms Elinor Lutu-McMoore, Meteorologist in Charge of the American Samoa Weather Service.”
Mr Kosi Latu, Director General of SPREP, highlighted the importance of partnerships in the meteorological sector, and acknowledged new and existing partners of the PMC for their continued support for the important work it undertakes.
“One partnership of note is the Memorandum of Understanding which was signed between SPREP and Meteo-France in 2018, which aims to encourage and support collaboration in providing technical support and capacity development opportunities for Pacific Meteorological Services.
“I would also like to welcome the Pohang University of Science and Technology as a new partner in the region to support the Met community, as well as Varysian and various private sector companies which have joined us for the first time and which continue to support meteorology and hydrology.”
The Director of Regional Offices and Development Activities of the WMO, Ms Mary Powers, reiterated the importance of the role of NMHSs in the Pacific.
“Your services contribute to poverty reduction, sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. It also supports significantly, both directly and indirectly, the efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The PMC-5 deliberations will take place over the next three days at the TATTE Convention Centre and follows on from a range of pre-PMC meetings which took place last week.
Samoa, as the host country, now assumes Chairmanship of the PMC-5. The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, is the newly elected Chair, with Ms Isabelle Leleu, Director of French Polynesia Meteorological Services, the Vice-Chair.
The PMC-5 is hosted in Apia, Samoa from 7 – 9 August 2019. It follows a week of pre-PMC meetings and events from 31 July – 6 August 2019. - #PacificMet
The PMC-5 is supported by a strong partnership between the following: The Government of Samoa, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Government of Australia through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Canada, Government of Korea, Climate Risk Early Warning Systems (CREWS), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), IMPACT Project, Varysian, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Climate and Oceans Support Programme in the Pacific (COSPPac), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).