Friday, May 14, 2010

Pacific adaptation to climate change project :: Helping Pacific communities adapt to climate change impacts

The Region is breaking new ground with the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project (PACC) which brings in over US 13 million dollars to help countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The project is the first of its kind in the region that has 13 Pacific islands countries implementing 'on the ground' adaptation projects in any of the three key affected areas; food security, coastal management capacity and water resource management.

In Tonga it is planned that the project will assist stakeholders in the Hihifo district to develop and implement ways to better manage and sustain their water resources. These may include supporting alternative water retention and supply systems to ensure that the people are better able to cope when drought do occur now and into the future.

Coastal management capacity is the key area that Vanuatu is focusing on. The island nation is implementing a very innovative project to involve communities in the design and relocation of road infrastructures in Epi, in the Shefa province which has been devastated by strong storm surges.

Palau will be working with stakeholders and the local communities in Ngatpang State to design methods that improve the resilience of their coastal food production systems to the impacts of climate change in the medium to longer term. One of these methods will include introducing a variety of taro that is salt water tolerant in order to address the issue of salt water inundation in taro patches.

Now one year old the PACC project is commemorating its first year with a review with all key stakeholders to reflect upon the lessons learnt and the successes of year one of a five year project.

"The PACC project cannot fail and we should not. There are ample resources and technical support present at the national and regional level through the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and other regional organisations to ensure that we do not fail," said SPREP Director David Sheppard at the opening of the PACC multipartite review meeting.

"I know that it is not easy to implement a project like PACC. It is large, it is challenging, and it is ambitious. There are donor requirements that we have to follow in the preparation of reports such as annual work plans, quarterly financial reports and quarterly narratives, audits, monitoring and evaluation. Given that we are breaking new ground with this project there are many eyes looking at this project - from within this region and globally."

During the one week gathering in Apia, Samoa, there are PACC milestones being celebrated which outline the successes in the first year of the regional project funded by the Global Environment Facility and delivered through a partnership of the United Nations Development Programme and SPREP.

There are now 13 signed Memorandum's of Understanding with the Pacific islands countries that outlines how all parties will work together to carry out PACC projects in each of the countries. There are 12 coordinators on board who will oversee the project in these countries and a Project executive committee has been formed.

"The meeting we are having now is a very important one," said Taito Nakalevu the PACC Project Manager.

"It's our first real opportunity to meet with all the PACC coordinators in one setting. So far I am amazed and impressed at the level of progress with these projects at the national level. It's a very excellent start for this project."

Nakalevu is also thankful to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, University of the South Pacific and the Applied Geosciences Commission for the partnership and assistance provided in the first year of PACC implementation.

"Given the successes and progress the Pacific has achieved together over the first year of the PACC, we will strive to increase project delivery so that communities would see for themselves the benefit of this project."

The workshop will take place from 10 to 14 May and has two representatives from each of the 13 Pacific islands countries and territories; Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu along with development partners and stakeholders. The PACC multipartite review meeting is held at the SPREP compound, in Apia Samoa.