A perspective from Samoa: While we might be small islands, we are large ocean states

By Samoa Observer 05 September 2017, 12:00AM

Ulu Bismarck Crawley 

C.E.O of M.N.R.E.

Address at pre-Forum Media Workshop


I have been invited today to speak on “Implementing Paris Agreement and Raising the Pacific Voice at COP 23.”

The Paris Agreement builds upon the United Nations Framework Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. 

As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort.

The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. There has also been an increased focus on loss and damage.

Samoa is technically not under legal obligations to fulfill its NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution), but is asked to pursue it as a strategy that reflects its highest ambition and contribution to global efforts.

At the national level, Samoa has submitted its nationally determined Contribution in line with its national priorities. 

Samoa will be asked to revisit its NDC (100% electricity from renewables from 2017-2025, sustained with international support) and communicate a new NDC in 2020. Samoa can revise its submitted NDC any time before then to enhance its ambition. Samoa looks towards the GEF or GCF for support to reach its NDC goals. 

The Samoa Climate Change Policy Review completed in early 2015 emphasises on development of a National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS) for 2015-2019 with three main objectives these being governance, adaptation and mitigation. The review also recommends mainstreaming climate change mitigation into development policies for GHG emission reduction and low carbon development (LCD). The recommended mitigation actions include energy efficiency and transportation and renewable energy development.

Samoa has a “Carbon Neutral  by 2020” goal approved by Cabinet in 2010, and there is consideration being given to a carbon neutral energy sector and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in the energy sector emerging from Samoa’s participation as a member of the Cartagena Dialogue in 2011. Samoa is finalizing its NAMA for the transport sector which is the major contributor to GHG. NAMA Intervention 1 – Scaling-up the Bio-diesel use in Diesel Vehicles; NAMA Intervention 2 – Introduction of electric Cars; NAMA Intervention 3 – Introduction of electric buses for Public Transport

With regards to adaptation efforts, the Agreement establishes a global goal on adaptation, recognizing urgent and immediate needs of most vulnerable countries. Each Party shall engage in adaptation planning processes and implementation of actions, which may include adaptation actions, National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), assessment of impacts and vulnerability, monitoring and evaluation, resilience actions. Parties should submit periodic adaptation communications, but it is not intended to impose a reporting burden. Support shall be provided for developing countries for enhanced cooperation, implementation of actions, and reporting. The Decisions request that the GCF expedite support for LDCs and other developing countries to formulate and implement NAPs. 

Samoa will undertake an adaptation planning process which encompasses all our efforts from projects and strategies we have been undertaking over the last 20 years. 

On the issue of Loss and damage a key ask by the Pacific at COP 21 in Paris is included as a separate and distinct element under Article 8 of the Agreement, which continues the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on loss and damage. Parties should enhance understanding, action, and support on areas related to loss and damage, including early warning, emergency preparedness, slow onset events, irreversible and permanent loss and damage, risk assessment, risk insurance or pooling, non-economic losses, and resilience. The Agreement emphasizes that this does not involve or provide a basis for liability or compensation. 

At the implementation level Samoa and other Pacific Island Countries continue to follow the actions of the WIM and support any recommendations for the expansion of its scope. 

On finance, developed countries shall take the lead, and provision of finances should aim to scale up and achieve a balance between mitigation and adaptation, especially acknowledging priorities of LDCs and SIDs, which should consider the use of public and grant-based resources for adaptation. 

The GEF and Adaptation Fund continues to serve important functions for the government of Samoa to access support for its climate change-related activities.  Samoa has also accessed the GCF funding and will continue to do so in the future for projects to build resilience of communities.  

Other relevant topics: technology development and transfer, capacity building, and others are to strengthen cooperative action through the establishment of the technology mechanism and capacity-building initiative to build institutional and technical capacity. 

Samoa as a SIDs is also not bound by the same timeline of reporting requirements as other Parties, and may submit information at their discretion. However we aspire to deliver these obligations based on available capability - financial and human resources. 

The COP 23 in Bonn this year will be a unique opportunity for the Pacific to voice their strong concerns as Fiji will take the chairmanship. This is the first time for a Pacific Island Country to chair the Conference of the Parties. An opportunity to accelerate our collective voices so that our unique circumstances and vulnerability to impacts of climate change will be highlighted at COP 23 termed as the “Pacific COP”.  This will be a monumental COP and it would be one of the best opportunities for Pacific Island Nations to showcase the relevance of our existence to the Global Community. 

As reiterated in the SIDS Conference in 2014, “while we may maybe Small Island States we are large Ocean States’, the Pacific Ocean is the largest in the World.  Hence the Samoa Pathway as agreed to by all Small Islands states is the blueprint for Sustainable Development for all SIDs. At the recent Ocean Conference, Samoa identified 13 voluntary commitments in the thematic areas of marine protection areas, coastal, resource management, governance, threatened and migratory species and marine debris through conservation management measures. 

“In preparation for COP23 we should not lose sight of guiding principles of environmental governance; Sustainable development, requiring present development to allow for the needs of future generations; Precautionary Principle, which urges government to err on the side of environmental protection when the precise impacts of an activity are not fully known; The polluter pays principle, that shall seek to make polluting industries economically responsible for the impacts of their commercial activities.”

“At the regional and international level, nations shall be obligated to ensure that activities within their borders do not have damaging impacts beyond their borders (no harm rule). State to cooperate in good faith with one another in relation to environmental management. Finally, common but differentiated responsibility recognizing that different countries will have different needs and responsibilities which is particularly important in relation to participation by developed and developing countries.”

The 48th regional forum meeting will be a valuable opportunity for countries to jointly update and develop regional frameworks that recognizes national priorities to inform negotiations in the upcoming COP23. 

Samoa acknowledges the support of SPREP, PIFS and CROP members as well as development partners for their support.

Thank you. God bless. 

By Samoa Observer 05 September 2017, 12:00AM

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