Welcome to Samoa, Your Royal Highness!

The Samoa Observer News Group today joins the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Saualavi II, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, village leaders and the rest of Samoa to extend a warm welcome to the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Norway, His Royal Highness Haakon.

It’s not everyday that this country we call home welcomes a Crown Prince so it goes without saying we are honoured to welcome him and his delegation to our beautiful country. 

Crown Prince Haakon is accompanied by Norway’s Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein and other senior Norway government officials. 

It’s a pity they are not here for longer because there is so much more to see and experience in Samoa than what he will see according to his official programme.

In any case, we hope they make the most of their time in Samoa so that this last stop of their flying visit becomes the most memorable of all the things they have seen during the past few days.

Yesterday, he was greeted and welcomed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, on the tarmac at the Faleolo International Airport. From there, he was transported like a true Prince to Taumeasina Island Resort where he is staying. It was there he would have met a lot of who’s who of Samoa last night during a state dinner hosted by the Government so that by today, he should have some idea about the kind of people Samoans are.

This morning is a busy time for the Crown Prince. The official part of the day starts with a courtesy visit to His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II before he visits two climate change related projects, the Vaisigano Bridge Project and the Moata’a Mangroves. He will then call into Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s office before he attends a luncheon this afternoon as one of his last official engagements. 

There is no doubt that his presence in Samoa will leave a long last impression on everyone he meets. It goes without saying that his visit has been a popular topic of discussion and anticipation among females; some of them would have the privilege of meeting a real life Prince today. And good on them, savour the moment - and the photo.

On a more serious note, we’ve been told the the Crown Prince’s visit is focusing on the efforts by Samoa and other Pacific countries to adapt to the growing challenges posed by climate change. During his official engagements today, the Crown Prince will look to strengthen his country’s relationship with Samoa and find out what more they can do to help. This will be a great help for Samoa given the fact Norway plays a leading role in international efforts relating to climate and oceans.

Earlier this year when the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano welcomed the Ambassador of Norway to Samoa, Paul Gulleik Larsen, they discussed a number of issues of mutual interest to the countries. At the time, Mr. Larsen assured that his country and Samoa share a deep concern for the future of our planet. 

“We share a commitment to promote peace and sustainable development -both of our governments are actively engaged in the United Nations and international efforts to take action against climate change and ocean pollution,” Mr. Larsen said. “Our welfare depends on healthy oceans for fishing and open sea-lanes for shipping. Our security depends on rules-based international system, including the Law of the Sea.

 “Healthy oceans help limit the effects of changes in climate, help feed a growing population, and help develop a sustainable blue economy.”

In that vein, the Ambassador talked about Norway hosting the ‘Our Oceans’ conference in Oslo in October 2019. 

“My government has launched a large program to combat marine plastic pollution in developing countries. We have established a Trust Fund in the World Bank to mobilize donors around this cause and we want to work with Samoa in these efforts.”

But that’s not all and perhaps most importantly for Samoa is Norway’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund – which is where the money for the Vaisigano project – millions of it too – is coming from.

 “Norway has provided USD $200 million to the Green Climate Fund and promoted simpler access for small island states and we are very pleased to hear that Samoa is receiving support from the Fund for the Vaisigano River project,” Mr. Larsen said.

“We know that climate change is an issue of security, if not survival, for many small island states and we hope to be elected to the UN Security Council for the term 2021-2022, where we intend to bring the security concerns of Pacific island states to the Council table in New York.”

Well we have no doubt that Crown Prince Haakon will only further strengthen Samoa and Norway’s relationship and help his country achieve their aspirations. 

Have a pleasant stay. Have a wonderful Thursday Samoa, God bless!

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