Monday, March 12, 2012

Fiji leading the way on climate change response


FIJI’s effort to address the adverse impacts of climate change is on track with the endorsement of its National Climate Change Policy by cabinet early this month.
 In launching the policy, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, reportedly said that the policy and other related policies that it already had in place in agriculture, land use, forestry, fisheries and water would play an important role in supporting its efforts to reduce adverse impacts of climate change on their economic and social development.
He noted that these policies together would focus on the sustainable management of the country’s natural resources and the establishment of appropriate institutional arrangements for effective implementation and monitoring.
This is reported to be in line with their overall approach towards environmental management in order to address issues that may emanate from natural hazards and unsustainable resource management and utilisation.
Without going into the details of the policy, one area worth mentioning was the inclusion of an implementation framework that identifies the responsible lead agencies and implementing agencies.
 This implementation framework will serve as a guide to organise its stakeholders when it comes to implementation.
 We believe this a step in the right direction and commend our fellow Pacific islands nation for coming up with such as a policy.
We hope all other Pacific island countries and territories, including Papua New Guinea will need to follow suit.
This is not to say that we are not doing anything on this front, we have made efforts already but we need to show more commitment in implementation.
Such action is becoming increasingly necessary as climate change constitutes one of the greatest barriers to sustainable development in the country and the region.
It is putting our biodiversity and ecosystems at risk.
Climate change is expected to bring about an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as flooding, droughts and cyclones. 
A farmer planting sweet potato vines on a mound in Tambul, Western Highlands. Climate change will have an impact on food security, thus our farmers must be engaged in any response activities on the impacts of climate changes.

A water harvesting equipment built using locally-available resources being tested at NARI Momase Regional Research Centre, Bubia,  outside Lae. Water availability will be impacted by climate change and efforts should be made to developing simple water harvesting technologies such as this to assist local communities.

Whilst we may be considered as insignificant contributor to climate change, the region has been classified as highly vulnerable to its impacts.
This is likely to have severe implications on our economic growth, as we rely heavily on our natural resources.
Our economy and livelihood are based around fisheries, forestry and agriculture.
As demonstrated by Fiji, PNG needs to have a multi-disciplinary approach and a well-established government position on issues and policies required to address the impacts of climate change.  We need to have in place clearly defined roles of stakeholders, both in the short and long term.  
We have to develop frameworks that reflect current and emerging climate change issues at the local, national and international level.
We need to have a policy that provides a platform for coordination among sectors and direction on national positions and priorities regarding climate change mitigation and adaptation.
We are fortunate to have regional organisations such as the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and University of South Pacific (USP), which are already implementing regional climate change programmes that support the development of our national programmes and policies.
Any national climate change policy developed should be providing the necessary guidelines for all sectors to ensure that current and expected impacts of climate change are considered in planning and implementing our programmes.
Such policies should also encourage relevant sectors to contribute in mitigating initiatives as part of our contributions to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It is obvious that current administrative and institutional frameworks relating to climate change activities are operating separately and need to be more effectively integrated and coordinated.
The absence of our own climate change policy may be slowing our efforts for effective coordination, which could hinder our efforts to address climate change systematically at the national level.
We believe having own policy should set the platform for dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders through organised planning and implementation of national and local climate change related programmes.
Such policy would also support us meeting our international obligation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
We need to have a policy that defines clear objectives and accompanying strategies to facilitate the mainstreaming of climate change issues into relevant sectors and to support the provision of necessary technical and financial resources to this end.
Most importantly we need to develop a policy with wide consultation with all stakeholders.
Our communities, farmers, women, and resource owners must be engaged from the beginning. Their voices have to be taken into consideration in national climate change policy and must been seen part of our efforts to addressing the impacts of climate change.
Let us avoid the practice in the past of developing policies and strategies that were aimed at addressing problems, without analysing their implications when it comes to implementing them. We need to have a policy that is put together by all concerned, including a well defined implementation framework clearly defining the roles of all sectors.

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