That’s according to deputy Speaker Mona Ioane, who told the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Sydney late last month that the big problem in the Cook Islands is that most MPs don’t understand the sustainable development plans for their respective islands.
Speaking on the topic, “How can parliamentarians and support staff participate effectively in measuring and assessing the performance of Governments climate change policies?” Ioane said the gap in knowledge was something that needed to be addressed first.
The Cook Islands has the National Sustainable Development Plan 2016- 2020 (NSDP), which encapsulates the future aspirations and ambitions of the country over a five-year period.
Ioane said under the Cook Islands NSDP 2016-2020, there are 16 national development goals.
Goal 13, he said, was to “strengthen resilience to combat the impacts of climate change and natural disasters”.
“So, climate change considerations are important goals set out in the plan for adaptation and mitigation purposes, targeting issues relating to water security, food security (agriculture and fisheries), and low carbon development (renewable energy solutions), etc,” Ioane said.
“Unlike previous NSDPs, the recent plan focuses on monitoring the progress of each goal set out in the document to ensure transparency and accountability.
“Aligned to the goals of the NSDP is the Community Sustainable Development Plan (CSDP), which is tailor-made to meet the needs for each of the Pa Enua.
“In the context of the Pa Enua, all climate change and disaster risk reduction efforts must align to the CSDP.”
Ioane said he did not think the role of parliamentarians in the Cook Islands had been defined within these documents.
“However, it is essential that we need to familiarise ourselves with the NSDP, and especially the sustainable development plans of our constituencies so that we are aware of the activities and targets that need to be achieved within the lifetime of both documents.
“I believe it is the responsibility of parliamentarians to ensure that climate change and disaster risk reduction efforts in the community are aligned with the respective documents and that they receive the necessary support from government.
“In our NSDP, there are indicators that measure our progress in a holistic manner, which makes things easier.”
Ioane attended the CPA Conference with former deputy Speaker and government MP Rose Brown.