The Pacific Climate Change Centre is a first for the Pacific region and will coordinate climate change initiatives in the region, providing a shared resource for further collaboration between 21 island nations and territories including Tonga, Fiji, America Samoa, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Nauru and French Polynesia.
Director-General Leota Kosi Latu says the centre, which will be built on the SPREP campus in Apia, will be “an opportunity for the region to come together whether it’s the scientists, whether it’s students who are wanting to know more about climate change and wanting to have an attachment, an internship. These are the kind of opportunities that the Centre will offer.”
Mr Latu says it will look at innovative solutions for climate change in terms of adaptation and issues related to mitigation and issues related to access to climate finance.“The idea is to try and bring together all of our action, rather than each country doing their own thing, which is understandable. There is national action that’s required at the national level but I think at the regional level we need to be collaborating, we need to be co-operating, we need to be facilitating all of our action together because our challenges are similar."
“So the climate change centre will be an opportunity to try and enhance that type and level of co-operation to make sure that as a region we are working together, and capacity building and training. That we are speaking as one voice.”
Mr Latu says the response to climate change needs to involve a wider multi-stakeholder approach. “That means it’s not just the scientists that need to tell us what’s happening, we need the social scientists, we need the academics, we need the people in the community,” he says.
“We want to be conveying to our constituencies and our global community that we only have one planet. It’s a shared planet and that means the natural resources of the sea and of the environment need to be treated as such. There must be shared responsibility. There must be shared accountability about how we share and manage our natural resources.”
Although final details for the centre’s building programme are currently being worked out, it is expected to take more than a year to build.
Funded by the Government of Japan, in close collaboration with the Government of Samoa and SPREP, the regional centre will be constructed in line with sustainable and environmental building design principles and features including rainwater harvesting, water saving bathrooms and anaerobic digesters.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is the intergovernmental regional body with a mandated responsibility on behalf of 21 island nations and territories of the Pacific region to protect and manage environmental and natural resources, ensuring sustainable development for the region.