Climate and disaster resilient transport in Small Island Developing States, including Samoa, was another issue on the agenda of Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa in Bonn, Germany.
Fiame joined representatives of countries that are vulnerable to climate change on a panel discussion that focused on climate resilience in S.I.D.S.
During the panel discussions, it was made known that S.I.D.S. have had several options to enhance resilience including strengthening their transport asset management systems, a measure that has been found to significantly reduce access and well-being losses resulting from climate change impacts.
Furthermore, S.I.D.S. are already piloting best practices with the support of the World Bank but further international cooperation is required to scale up resilient transport systems and in this way strengthen the resilience of economies and communities to the impacts of climate change.
Fiame said one of the Samoa government’s development priorities was the rural areas in terms of infrastructure development.
“The point was well made because it’s all about connectivity with people and being able to mobilize.
“The infrastructure push for Samoa into the rural areas is quite significant.
“And that is because 80 percent of land is customary land, therefore the population is predominantly rural and yet the economic activities takes place in the urban center.
“So the situation was for many Samoans to access services and to be active in the economic areas and they quite often have had to make large investments moving from where they live to the urban areas.
“We all understand that discussions around urban development and the pressure that are put there, and so one of the rationales for the push of infrastructure were really to enable Samoans to live on their customary lands which are not taxed, I might add it’s a natural asset.
“However if the infrastructure is there, then they are able to mobilize more easily and move into the urban center.”
Fiame said it was not just road development that was the issue.
“It also had to do with essential services such as water and electricity, and also social services such as the hospitals and schools, but very key to all that was the roads and most the villages are situated in coastal areas so there was a need for action in the coastal areas.
“A lot of the coastal roads now have seawalls but because it is an island country and most of the people do live on the coast where there isn’t protection of the coastal areas and I say this as the Minister of National Resources that protection is more of a softer option, the planting of trees and management of coastal wetlands.
“Introducing it that way was how we hold the importance of connectivity through the infrastructure.”