P.M. Tuilaepa headlines climate change conference

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, a New Zealand QC, a top business journalist and academics from universities in Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji and the United States are among the line-up of speakers to present at Victoria University of Wellington’s second Pacific Climate Change Conference in February next year.

The conference, Pacific Ocean - Pacific Climate, follows the success of the 2016 conference, which saw approximately 240 people, including representatives from 14 Pacific nations, attend the three-day event.

Conference co-organiser Victoria’s Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika), Luamanuvao Winnie Laban says like the first conference, Pacific Ocean - Pacific Climate will bring together a range of voices on climate change from all over the Pacific spanning the arts, science, business, health, indigenous rights, law, media, NGOs, activist and the faith communities.

Opening keynote speaker, Prime Minister Tuila’epa says climate change is a serious challenge that Pacific Island nations can’t ignore.

“It is very important that our Pacific Island countries come together at this conference and all nations take action to stop climate change. Rising sea levels mean that the very survival of our island homes is at risk,” he says.

Other speakers include Dr Will Steffen, Australian National University; Dr Michael Mann, Pennsylvania State University; Dr Patila Malua-Amosa, National University of Samoa, Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC, Victoria University; Rod Oram, business journalist and commentator; Sarah Thomson, climate change activist; Chris Booth, environmental artist; Dr Elisabeth Holland, University of the South Pacific and Professor James Renwick, Victoria University.

Conference co-organiser and speaker, Professor James Renwick says oceans are an appropriate theme for next year’s conference.

“The Pacific is home to many low-lying island nations that are vulnerable to rising sea levels and sensitive to large swings in climate from year to year. Nowhere is climate change, and ocean change, a more urgent issue.

“Oceans hold the vast majority of the heat in the climate system, and are home to an array of biodiversity. The global oceans hold the key to the course of climate change for centuries to come.”

The 26 nation member Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P) has partnered with the University to co-host the conference.

S.P.R.E.P director general Kosi Latu says part of the Conference will be devoted to mitigation action under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“We’re asking representatives of nations across the Pacific to report at the conference on steps taken at a national level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow the rate of climate change.”

Those wishing to present at the conference on the unfolding trends of climate change have until August 31 to submit an abstract. Visit the website for more information.

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