Samoa’s Oceans Strategy is in its development stages.
And with assistance of Conservation International, the plan will also address blue carbon and coastal protection measures given the adverse impacts of climate change on Samoa.
That was the message delivered by Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (C.O.P. 23) at the Blue Carbon Reception and Exhibition.
Fiame is representing the Samoa with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi unable to attend.
“The Paris Agreement is the common thread that binds us together. It urges immediate and urgent action now,” she told the audience.
“Given the important role of the ocean in mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, by extension, the large ocean-based Pacific states are able to do their share of implementation of the Paris Agreement through ocean-based actions, such as implementing ‘Blue carbon’ policies.”
“This is in recognition of the role that ecosystems such as seagrasses, mangroves and salt marshes, play in the carbon cycle through their sequestration of carbon dioxide.”
“The importance of maintaining and restoring the health and extent of these ecosystems are also crucial to enhancing community and environmental resilience; they also play a key role in adaptation including acting as effective buffers against storm surges.”
“All the Pacific Small Island States, including Samoa, continue to emphasize the importance of the ocean and its resources to our people and the survival of the planet.”
“At the U.N. Ocean Conference in New York this year Samoa submitted 12 Voluntary Commitments to help implement S.D.G.14 – the ocean goal.”
Fiame said the commitments were related to the rehabilitation and protection of mangrove ecosystems for climate change adaptation, livelihoods and biodiversity because some mangroves were threatened by overharvesting, removal in favour of other developments, pollution, use as wastelands, natural phenomena and other activities.
“Samoa now has an existing Ocean Health Network which is a coordination mechanism for our oceans work, and includes addressing issues relating to oceans and climate change.”
She pointed out that Samoa hosted the 48th Pacific Islands Forum meeting where the Pacific Forum Leaders endorsed the Blue Pacific narrative of collective action that reinforces the potential of our shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean, based on the explicit recognition of our shared ocean identity, ocean geography, and ocean resources.
“Looking at the ocean-climate nexus is therefore important for us as large ocean states, as we are very aware of and exist in the important mesh between the health of our ocean and the impacts of and solutions to climate change.”
“The urgent call for action catalyzes all to be proactive in providing innovative solutions informed by the best available science.”
“I applaud the work of the Blue Carbon Initiative and invite the partnership to increase engagement in our mangrove and blue carbon work in Samoa and in the Pacific.”
“I end with wishing the Conservation International, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of U.N.E.S.C.O, I.U.C.N. and the Australian Government through the International Partnership for Blue Carbon for continued success of this initiative, and invite all to enjoy the exhibitions and tonight’s reception,” she added.
Samoa’s local Representative of Conservation International, Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson told the Samoa Observer that blue carbon ecosystems sequester store carbon and when degraded or destroyed, these ecosystems emit the carbon they have stored for centuries into the atmosphere and oceans and become sources of greenhouse gases.
She added experts estimated that as much as 1.02 billion tons of carbon dioxide were being released annually from degraded coastal ecosystems, which was equivalent to 19 percent of emissions from tropical deforestation globally.
“Mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses are critical along the world’s coasts, supporting coastal water quality, healthy fisheries, and coastal protection against floods and storms.”
“For example, mangroves are estimated to be worth at least US$1.6 billion each year in ecosystem services that support coastal livelihoods and human populations around the world.”
“The Blue Carbon Initiative works to protect and restore coastal ecosystems for their role in reducing impacts of global climate change.”
“To support this work, the initiative is coordinating the International Blue Carbon Scientific Working Group and International Blue Carbon Policy Working Group, which provide guidance for needed research, project implementation and policy priorities.”
“Projects are being developed at sites globally to protect and restore coastal ecosystems for their ‘blue’ carbon value.”