Pacific resiliency called upon in time of crisis
The Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P), Leota Kosi Latu, has called on Pacific nations to use its practiced resiliency during the exceptional international crisis caused by the novel coronavirus.
S.P.R.E.P., which is based in Samoa and serves 21 member states across the region, has switched to remote working and has stopped travelling, with some staff caught in the wrong countries as new restrictions were announced.
“We live in unprecedented times where it is not just the Pacific region but the whole world that sits on the cusp of a new threat that we have not encountered before,” Leota said in a statement.
“Now more than ever, our resiliency as a Pacific people is our solid foundation to empower us all to take the right actions.”
The people of the Pacific are used to living in constant preparedness for disaster, though more often from environmental threats and their economic consequences.
But this should be applied to the hazard of COVID-19, Leota urged.
“We know how to prepare and react when times are difficult, our resiliency makes up our history and as our climate has changed resulting in new and unexpected threats we are adapting to remain resilient people. This is a time when we need to draw upon this for our safety.
Despite the capacity of the internet and modern technology, S.P.R.E.P.’s availability for its members will be limited for some time, he said, in particular due to the travel restrictions and airline cutbacks.
Key regional and international events have been postponed until further notice, which will affect project and climate change agreement negotiations.
“We continue to be available to our Members, to remotely provide support to maintain the resilience of Pacific people and environment.
“This is a challenging time for many that live away from their homes and family, so at all times we are doing what we can so our team has peace of mind.
“For our S.P.R.E.P. family and the few people that were caught in between the health and travel advisories issued throughout the region – we are in constant contact with them and providing as much support as possible so they feel, and are, safe.”
Read Leota's full statement on page 12 of the Samoa Observer of Tuesday.