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Thursday, October 16, 2008

SPC Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations discusses the impact of climate change on the region

An effective climate adaptation programme is necessary for addressing the challenges posed by climate change on agriculture, forestry and fisheries and the lives of people in the Pacific Islands region. SPC’s Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA) has endorsed a plan to make this happen.

In a presentation to CRGA, SPC’s North Pacific Manager, Amena Yauvoli, said a “business as usual” approach was not an option when dealing with climate change because the “cost of delays in human economic, socio-cultural and political terms will be too great.”

“The impact of climate change cuts across all sectors. In the agriculture and forestry sector, climate change could negatively affect the composition of forests and trees, and result in a loss of crops due to floods, droughts, soil erosion, salinisation, and increased risks of pests and diseases. The fisheries sector could be affected by depleting fish stocks and the distribution of tuna,” Mr Yauvoli said.

Governments in the region will have to bear the costs of climate change impacts, which include costs related to fishing safety at sea, water bourne diseases and mosquito bourne diseases, and threats to human lives posed by injuries and deaths because of increased incidences of natural disasters such as drought and flooding of low lying areas such as atolls as tropical cyclones become more intense.

“Climate change can also upset settlements and the security of a nation,” Mr Yauvoli said.

In adopting the SPC Climate Change Adaptation Plan, CRGA considered strategies in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and public health, especially those aimed at helping rural communities adapt by diversifying methods of food production and income generation.

The SPC Climate Change Adaptation Programme will address “climate ready” crops and trees varieties, encourage participatory approaches to help farmers adapt, promote sustainable land management to build resilience, and address emissions from deforestation and degradation and bio fuels that will not impact on food security, diversify how fish are produced so resilient methods can be identified and developed, increase emphasis on small pond aquaculture for subsistence fisheries, and the reduction of stresses to coastal fisheries.

There is also a new AusAID project to assess the vulnerability of fisheries and aquaculture to climate change.

In dealing with public health, SPC will work with the World Health Organization in addressing health challenges that climate change poses. A dengue vector surveillance and control programme with the Institute Pasteur in New Caledonia will be pursued and continuous assessments on the effects of climate change on malaria under the Global Fund.

There will be strong cooperation between SPC, SPREP and other CROP agencies to assist Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) to achieve the goals of the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change.

Source: SPC

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