Prime minister Henry Puna introduced the policy to Cabinet.
The policy itself was prepared with financial support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and was initially drafted by a locally sourced consultant, who undertook a wide series of consultations with stakeholders.
Once finalised, the policy was then submitted to the National Sustainable Development Council (NSDC) who after various comments and input, had the policy revised.
In making the submission to Cabinet, recognition was also given to the NSDC who had endorsed the policy, paving the way for its approval.
The policy provides for how government agencies and ministries, and non-government organisations address the impact of climate change in their own plans and strategies. This work often called “mainstreaming” will entail further discussions and if required technical and financial support, facilitated by the Climate Change Cook Islands office.
The director of CCCI, Wayne King, outlined that the policy was one way for how government can strengthen its approach to addressing climate change. “While some in the community may believe that climate change is not real, the approach we take is that the impacts we are experiencing and changes that we and our community recognise, are a precursor to a warmer world,” says King.
He says that while climate science has a wide range of believers and disbelievers, many governments are already in vulnerable situations, such as small island countries, who cannot afford to discount the scientific information provided through legitimate international bodies.
Some of those changes we are experiencing are, for example, increasing intense periods of rainfall, and warmer air and sea temperatures.
Cabinet also approved CCCI’s Cook Islands Country Programme, a climate change programme that is guided by the National Sustainable Development Plan, and builds upon a number of other nationally approved plans and strategies, such as the National Infrastructure Investment Plan.
The country programme provides the opportunity for all stakeholders to submit ideas and proposals that are then prioritised by government as a part our development agenda, and discussed with our development partners and organisations. The country programme was supported under the Readiness Funds from the GCF.
The policy and country programme paves the way for the Cook Islands to hold a Climate Change Development and Resilience Round Table on March 14 and 15, where the programme will be discussed with development partners and organisations.