To commemorate the U.N.D.P’s 50th Anniversary and to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (S.D.Gs), the Vaiala community came out to support the tree planting activity as part of the celebration programme.
Vaiala village mayor and village youth joined officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and U.N.D.P in planting 17 native coastal tree species along the Vaiala Seawall.
The 17 native trees planted represent the 17 S.D.Gs.
Earlier in the morning a parade through town led by the Samoa Police Band took place with 17 schools participating.
Pastor of the Vaiala EFKS Congregation, Rev. Lotu Uele blessed the tree planting event with a short prayer, and reminded youth that they are the guardians of the resources today for future generations to enjoy.
U.N.D.P Resident Representative, Lizbeth Cullity said that the tree planting activity relates to the Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action, as well as Sustainable Development Goal 15 Life on Land though the Adaptation Fund project on Enhancing Resilience to Climate Change Project (E.R.C.C), in Samoa.
The coastal village of Vaiala, which has seen some destructive king tides and storm surges in the recent past, is now protected with the completion of the Vaiala Seawall Reconstruction end of December, 2015, an example of implementing activities under the E.R.C.C project.
“The main purpose of the E.R.C.C project is to provide a holistic and countrywide approach to Climate Change adaptation in Samoa. It provides a vehicle to implement the Community Integrated Management Plans (CIMS) on the ground as a practical community based response to adaptation.”
Ms. Cullity added that as a Small Island Development State (S.I.D.S) Samoa is experiencing increasing climate change-induced impacts to human and economic development. Sea level rise and adverse impacts of climate change continue to pose a risk to SIDS and their efforts to achieve sustainable development and their survival viability.
“The Vaiala seawall therefore increases the resilience of Samoa’s community to the impacts of climate change through hard measures and soft measures through tree planting.”
The tree planting activity reaffirms U.N.D.P’s commitment to improve the wellbeing of Samoan communities. Trees can provide beauty and shade as well as contribute to improve air quality and protect the soil and coastal zones from erosion. The environmental benefits of trees are particularly important in exposed coastlines and other fragile areas as well as contributing to reducing impacts of the “greenhouse effect”.
C.E.O for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Suluimalo Amataga Penaia was the chief guest and re-iterated the message that the youth of today are the guardians of the resources for future generations.
He encouraged the village youth to be responsible for the trees planted marking the 17 SDGs and to look after them for a resilient coastal community in years to come.
Suluimalo then launched the Vaiala Seawall AF video documentary, which showcased the process and how the structure has built the adaptive capacity of Samoa’s communities to the adverse impacts of climate change.
The Vaiala seawall and tree planting activity is also in partnership with the “Apia Waterfront Project” with NZAID and continuing the strong relationship between government, donor partners and local communities in building resilience to impacts of climate change and improve economic livelihoods.