Spotlight on Weather Ready Pacific
A side event on the margins of the 52nd Pacific Islands Leaders Forum (PIFLM52) in Rarotonga has shone the spotlight on the Weather Ready Pacific (WRP) Decadal Programme of Investment developed by Pacific Islands to strengthen the Pacific region’s ability to anticipate, plan for, and respond to high impact and extreme weather, water, and ocean events.
The “Keeping our Pacific people safe through a Weather Ready Pacific” side event, organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), was held on Thursday at the Pacific Partnership for Prosperity Pavilion, at the Punanga Market.
Facilitated by SPREP’s Director of Climate Change Resilience, Ms Tagaloa Cooper, panelists included the Director of Cook Islands Meteorological Services, Mr Arona Ngari, Australia’s Ambassador for Climate Change, Her Excellency Kristin Tille and SPREP’s Director General, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra. The talanoa highlighted the progress made, challenges and opportunities to coordinate and mobilise resources.
As the host of the PIFLM52 guided by the theme “'Our People - Our Voices, Our Choices, Our Pacific Way: to Promote, Partner, and Prosper,” Director Mr Ngari said the Cook Islands fully support the decision by Pacific Leaders in 2021 to endorse the Weather Ready Pacific Decadal Programme of Investment because the programme represents a critical collaboration to protect Pacific communities.
The Weather Ready Pacific Decadal Programme of Investment was developed as a result of a call by the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC). With the support of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), and the Government of Australia through the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), WRP has a goal of USD 167million for to implement the work, with the Government of Australia providing initial funding support of AUD30 million.
“We are indebted to Australia for supporting this initiative which I believe is very, very important to protect our people from extreme weather events. Weather Ready is where we’ll try and find the means to upgrade our facilities to provide information to our people in the community in a timely and accurate manner,” said Mr Ngari.
Australia’s Ambassador for Climate Change, Her Excellency Kristin Tille, applauded the programme noting that it is a Pacific led initiative and Australia is very happy to support it.
“What strikes me about this project and it is very clear is that it is built on highly technical and Pacific expertise that nobody else can come and replace. You have been able to present this programme in a way that makes it easier for us to understand why this is important and how it could change lives and that’s very important in particular for governments and donors,” she said.
Ambassador Tille highlighted that while the benefits of WRP reach local communities in the Pacific, it’s also a significant contribution to global efforts for better monitoring and observation of climate change issues.
“Pacific nations are comparatively small but you are the custodians of a very large blue Pacific continent and as we all know the Pacific is critical to the world’s response to climate change,” she said.
Pacific countries are vulnerable to a wide range of weather, climate and ocean extreme events, including tropical cyclones and typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, drought, storm surges and flash floods. They have devastating impacts on communities through loss of life and damage to infrastructure, homes, agricultural lands, livelihoods, industries and economies.
Climate change is also increasing this vulnerability to extreme events.
SPREP’s Director General, Mr Nawadra reminded that Pacific Leaders have already declared that the Pacific region is under a state of climate emergency.
“In order to address any significant threat, we need to understand what we are facing and that’s what the Weather Ready Pacific is. It is to help our Met Services who are at the front line of providing information and data we need to make informed decisions on how we adapt, prepare and how we need to change the way we do things to be able to be resilient due to the impacts that will continue to come and continue to be more significant,” he said.
Mr Nawadra pointed out that WRP is a programme developed by Pacific Met Directors themselves. “For the first time, WRP will take an integrated programmatic approach to what they need to do. In the past the approach was different, it was driven from the outside but with WRP, this is something we’ve been able to put together ourselves. We are very grateful to Australia for their strong ongoing support, not only in their initial investment of 30 million Australian dollars but in developing this programme itself.”
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