Climate Change Centre will bring experts, professionals to Samoa

Having a state-of-the-art research centre in Apia will bring climate change experts right to our doorstep, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.) has said.

The Pacific Climate Change Centre is opening on Thursday morning, with the help of the region’s Environment Ministers who are in Apia this week for the Pacific Environment Forum.

Tagaloa Cooper-Halo, Director of Climate Change Resilience at S.P.R.E.P, said a major benefit to Samoans will be access to climate change professionals working at the Centre.

“It’s exciting because it’s ours, it’s the Pacific’s,” she said.

“It’s not us going to countries to visit these places.” 

It is a credit to the Samoan Government for pushing to have the centre housed at S.P.R.E.P in Vailima, she added.

The P.C.C.C will be a research institute, information hub and education centre, open to anyone working towards resilience against the climate crisis.

The Japanese Government funded its building, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (J.I.C.A) is devising short courses on adaptation, mitigation and access to climate change project funding, Tagaloa said.

They will be open to all Pacific countries and territories, and to people working in any sector as S.P.R.E.P works on its ‘science to services’ strategy.

“The gap we have is how do we translate scientific information, and develop products to suit the sectors,” Tagaloa said.

“For example, we have projections developed with the national [meteorological] services for the month. That kind of tool can inform the different sectors, whether it is agriculture, fishing, tourism.”

‘Knowledge brokerage’ or getting information from the experts to the people who need it will be one of the centre’s most important functions, the director believes.

“When we talk about brokerage it is about gauging the need of the sector, seeing what information we have and how it can support that sector. 

“If I don’t know the answer to something, I will often know who you can speak to,” she said.

As well as the different sectors, children and youth also stand to benefit from having the P.C.C.C in Samoa, with ready access to experts on climate change.

Ms. Cooper-Halo said already S.P.R.E.P welcomes groups of students to their campus for educational activities, and hopes more will visit the new centre and the resources and expertise within it.

A regional centre is not a new to the world, only to the Pacific. The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre was established in 2002 and works with 20 countries on climate change resilience, policy and technical advice.

The P.C.C.C has been talking to the Caribbean centre to learn best practices, and Ms. Cooper-Halo hopes to see an exchange or meeting between the two by 2022, to share lessons and improve services.

As well as support from Japan, New Zealand is funding the centre’s human resources for the next three years, costing US$2.3m.

Update: This story has been amended to reflect the currency used to fund the centre's human resources.   

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