By Linny Folau in Honiara.
In the Pacific region many of the natural disasters experienced are related to water and climate, Hon. Samuel Manetoali told the opening meeting of the Pacific Meteorological Council on August 14 in the Solomon Islands.
“Given our limited capacity, isolation, weak economic base and frailty as Pacific Island countries and territories, we are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and that of climate variability.”
Hon. Manetoali, the Solomon Islands Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, said Pacific Island nations must work together in strengthening regional meteorological services by sharing knowledge and assisting each other in order to build resilience.
The theme for this PMC4 meeting is "Sustainable, Weather, Climate, Ocean and Water Services for a Resilient Pacific."
He said the gathering at the FFA in Honiara this week was to discuss ways and opportunities to strengthen their meteorological and hydrological services.
“We must continue to assist each other. We must continue to collaborate and share knowledge, experiences and skills in our efforts to build resilient societies. We must continue to work with our partners and ensure that adequate resources are available to support the implementation of priorities programmes and projects in our countries and territories.”
He said the global and regional frameworks on weather, climate and disaster risk reduction including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change would continue to facilitate their partnerships and future collaborations between their countries and development partners.
In the Solomon Islands through their climate change projects they had established a series of automated rain gauge stations as well as a series of seismic stations around the country to improve their early warning systems.
Another important development is a proposed Joint National Warning Centre building, he said.
Tonga’s Director of Meteorology and outgoing chair of the Pacific Meteorological Council, 'Ofa Fa'anunu, said they had come a long way since the last three council meetings - not only in the development of meteorology services in the region but also raising the profile of National Meteorological Services.
Today, the enhancement of National Meteorological and Hydrological Service capacity in weather forecasting, early warning systems, long terms projections and improved climate services to support decision making through the PMC is one of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s (SPREP) key regional goals in its 2017-2026 Strategic Plan.
‘Ofa said the council has not only developed a roadmap on climate services but also set up five panels of experts panels for a resilient Pacific in the areas of aviation, marine and oceans, climate, communications and infrastructure, and education, training and research.
"With the support of Pacific Met Desk Partnership established at SPREP and its leadership we have seen major improvements in the allocation of both regional and national funding commitments from institutions such as the Global Climate Fund, World Bank, ADB and UN agencies like UNDP as well as regional initiatives like the Climate and Oceans Support Programme (COSPPac).
He said they have developed a roadmap on climate services to guide their work in the delivery of climate services as well as the Pacific Island Meteorology Strategy which they have completed its mid term review.
"We have set up our Pacific Ministers of Meteorology Meeting, which has provided the foundation for our work through the Nuku’alofa Declaration paving the way for improving the services they provide to countries.
“I am extremely proud of what we have achieved as a region and as a council. However, much still needs to be done in improving coordination so that resource support is aligned to the work of the expert panels for a more effective delivery of our programs.”
‘Ofa said later this week they will be meeting with their development partners.
SPREP Director-General Kosi Latu said that with the support of the Government of Australia through COSPPac, the secretariat had finalized strategic documents, which will be presented at this meeting to help develop a Pacific Roadmap for Strengthened Climate Services.