Dutch share climate change ideas

Tuesday May 19, 2015 Written by Published in Weather
Koos Wieriks, strategic advisor from the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment in The Netherlands, (centre) shows a fl oating island concept to Pacifi c Organic and Ethical Trade Community coordinating offi cer Karen Mapusua (right) and Riyad Mucadam from the Republic of the Marshall Islands at the Pacifi c Climate Change Roundtable in Apia, Samoa. Koos Wieriks, strategic advisor from the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment in The Netherlands, (centre) shows a fl oating island concept to Pacifi c Organic and Ethical Trade Community coordinating offi cer Karen Mapusua (right) and Riyad Mucadam from the Republic of the Marshall Islands at the Pacifi c Climate Change Roundtable in Apia, Samoa. PHOTO: Faumuina Tafuana'i.

Representatives from the Netherlands were at the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable meeting Apia, Samoa last week to share lessons on rising sea levels and disaster preparedness.

Koos Wieriks, strategic advisor from the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, said the Netherlands government felt it was important for him to come to Samoa for the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable to hear what the Pacific concerns were and how they could help.

He said The Netherlands had a long history in water management, coastal protection and land reclamation. 

"Seventy per cent of our national product is produced below sea level so when something goes wrong, it really goes wrong."

Climate Change director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Netatua Pelesikoti, asked how Pacific regional agencies or national governments might engage or partner with the Netherlands.

Wieriks said there were a number of approaches such as using Dutch expertise in funded projects, capacity building and information sharing.

He said he realised the Netherlands was in a luxury situation financially compared to Pacific Island countries but the main learning was awareness and preparedness.

"When people are aware of the risk, they can reduce damage with elevated buildings, houses on stilts, and floating houses for example.”

Wieriks said that people of the Netherlands were inventive in dealing with the environment and could, for example, farm in smarter ways. 

“We have found it is cheaper and more environmentally friendly to work with nature.”

Emergency Management Cook Island director, Charles Carlson, says sea level rise and changes in rainfall and water availability are two slow onset hazards related to climate change in the Cook Islands.

“Climate Change is now becoming a development issue to prevent or at least mitigate the impact of Climate Change in the Cooks.”

Calrson says one could also argue that the Pacific is suffering more severe cyclones nowdays as a result of climate change.  

“Emergency Management Cook Islands is more focused on the rapid hazards and disasters like cyclones, floods etc, so we are a bit like the ambulance at the bottom of the hill when disasters happen.”

But, Carlson says the challenge then is how to build the fence at the top of the hill to prevent or minimise the disaster in the first place.

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