Leadership Samoa’s two-day forum on the Environment ended after looking at Climate Change and our community, Urban management and Apia township development and Samoa’s resilience to natural disasters.
Climate Change was the highlight of it all. ACEO for Disaster Management Organisation, Afioga Muliagatele Filomena Nelson presented on the impacts of climate change in Samoa, and how vulnerable Samoa is to hazards such as landslides, tsunami s and cyclones considering 70% of our population live along coastal areas. She mentioned ongoing pilot programmes the Ministry has in place to help reduce climate change, such as tree planting, seawalls, and clean ups to mention a few.
Muliaga said “Our belief is that we cannot learn anything about Climate Change if we do not do anything. So we did not wait for the international community to tell us - okay you better do this and you better look at renewable energy or build sea walls. Instead of waiting for them we started implementing pilot projects.”
Muliaga also spoke on the vital role D.M.O .plays when Samoa is under any threat, elaborating on the four phases of risk disaster management-prevention, preparedness, recovery and response.
“There were a lot of questions raised from the LS 2016 cohorts but the one that stood out is how Samoa’s risk management is coping with these adaptations.”
“Thus the risk of transiting from mitigation to adaptation applies that we are targeting community based awareness programs as the next holistic strategic approach.”
We were also introduced to building codes and measures addressed under the PUMA Act by the ACEO – Ms Tole’afoa Fetoloai Yandall - Alama and in relation to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Development Consent (DC) compliance.
These documentations serve the purpose of minimising damages on individual properties and also Samoa as a whole. In addition, the Planning and Urban Management Agency (PUMA) is highly anticipating leading government projects such as the Apia waterfront recreation area.
Chief Executive Officer of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Afioga Sulumalo Amataga Penaia spoke on Government plans for improving Samoa’s environment. One of the challenges he mentioned was changing the mindset of Samoan people, so we can sustain our resources for future generations.
LS 2016 cohorts participated actively and impressed with the high level speakers during the two-day forum, learning how they can implement changes within their household and pass on their knowledge to their communities such as tree planting, keeping our rivers clean, saving water, and composting.
Marina Su’a Keil a participant of LS 2016 said “We all need to contribute to help our environment because we live in it, so why don’t we start within our homes and within our villages. By working together, we can definitely make big changes for a greener Samoa.”
“It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our environment and think more seriously of the impacts of Climate Change as the world that we leave behind is the world our children will have to grow in.
So really we must ensure that we do the best that we can so our future generations can have a healthy and safe environment to grow up in,” said Tapuni Tanielu Suesue, NHS Savaii – participant of LS 2016.