Pacific Climate Change Centre opens at Vailima
The Pacific Climate Change Centre, a mew regional hub for research into the effects of global warming, was officially opened on Thursday.
The US$7.5 million (T$19.4 million) Pacific Climate Change Centre (P.C.C.C) is the latest addition to regional and national environment institutions in Vailima.
The P.C.C.C. is a project ten years in the making; it was built by Japan and will be resourced by New Zealand for the next three years.
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, said the centre would be especially significant to the region’s fight against the climate crisis.
“In order for us as Pacific peoples to take control of our own path in this fight, we need to build capacity and institutions for knowledge, training, networking and research,” he said.
“This will ensure Pacific tailored solutions to address our own adaptation needs and mitigation priorities.”
The Japanese Ambassador, Maugaoleatuolo Shinya Aoki, said his country was also committed to climate action in the Pacific, not only through aid projects like the P.C.C.C but in promoting green lifestyles at home too.
“Through the promotion of green, low carbon resilient and sustainable way of life and production, Japan will continue to take steps to tackle climate change and honour its obligations utilising technology and experience in the area of climate change,” he said.
Maugaoleatuolo is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Samoa.
The P.C.C.C is part of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (S.P.R.E.P) and the Climate Change Resilience programme led by Tagaloa Cooper-Halo.
In its first training, conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (J.I.C.A), experts will begin in November and will focus on coastal management.
Director-General, Leota Kosi Latu, said Tuilaepa was a strong driver of the project, ensuring enough funding went towards it for the betterment of the region, not just Samoa.
“The science is huge in terms of climate change negotiations, and in terms of us being able to develop models to predict for forecasting
“We already have a roadmap for research that was developed recently so research from the centre will add to that.”
The P.C.C.C has been built to be fully powered by solar panels, with a target capacity of 100 kilowatts. It is currently only running at 20kw, and S.P.R.E.P will need further funding assistance to get to the last 80kw.
“We were hoping to make it 100 but Japan were a bit slow but we are hoping to have a full 100kw and then this place will be 100 percent supplied by solar,” said Leota.
“When we have additional funding we will make it, it is already designed and accommodated for 100 per cent.”
The solar panels are connected to the main electricity grid rather than to storage batteries, so that there would not be additional waste at the end of their life, Leota said.
It has also been building with a rainwater collection system, water saving toilets and an energy monitoring system.
The building is 1800 square metres and two floors. There is a large multipurpose training room of 224 square metres and two wheel-chair access ramps and an elevator.
Ultimately, the centre will help the region survive climate change, said Leota.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said she is particularly interested in research on waste and water to come out of the new centre.
“One of the things I am focused on at the moment is waste and the other one is water – all aspects of it, especially catchment and waste, how we manage our water resources a lot better,” she said.
New Zealand's Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, said the centre is a milestone in the region’s coordinated approach to climate change.
The country is funding a team of six for the next three years to work at the centre, costing US$2.3 million (T$6.14 million), including the manager, technical advisors and a readiness advisor, to help member countries access climate finance.
“We see first-hand alongside Pacific leaders of our region the impacts and implications of the climate change crisis facing our Pacific Island nations,” Aupito said.
“We acknowledge the ambitious action on climate change the region has been calling for.
“These challenges will require regional leadership and cooperation and I want to acknowledge the important and collaborative role that Samoa and Japan are taking in their approach to S.P.R.E.P.’s P.C.C.C.
The centre was built by Konoike Company Ltd, a Japanese construction company with additional work by Ca’Bella Pacific Construction Samoa Ltd.