As the participants at the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Samoa return home this weekend, many are leaving satisfied that it was the best conference to date.
More than 200 delegates attended the bi-annual conference this week in Apia, including four Cook Islands representatives.
David Sheppard, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) says this has been the Fifth Pacific Climate Change Roundtable and in his view, it has been the best.
Sheppard believes that part of the success has been the desire by the organisers and delegates to keep the Pacific Islands and its peoples the main focus of the roundtable.
Since 2013, the aim of the conference has been to focus on Pacific island countries and the needs and priorities of Pacific countries and peoples.
"I believe this Roundtable has achieved this objective and that we have, in the words of one of the delegates from Tonga, been listening to our communities," Sheppard says
Mr Sheppard reminded delegates of key issues to consider in any climate change initiative.
One of these initiatives, The Strategy for Resilient Development, which is the Pacific’s approach to integrate climate change and disaster risk reduction in our region, is a world first and has been seen as a globally leading example to other communities and regions around the world.
The conference also addressed and agreed on the need for long term and sustainable finance for climate change in our region.
“In particular, we need to improve access by Pacific countries to climate finance, and the need to use opportunities such as the Green Climate Fund to strengthen national capacities to access climate finance.”.
Sheppard says they also noted that the Pacific region contributes 0.03 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas, but is in the front line of a changing climate.
According to Sheppard, the Roundtable has had a wealth of practical, exciting and groundbreaking experiences presented this week.
“The case studies and presentations show how much exciting work and innovation is underway in our region.” President Loewk of the Republic of the Marshall Islands emphasised this exciting work saying, ‘we are not just standing on the shore waving our hands’. Cook Island representatives at the forum will be back on Monday to share their views on the conference, and how the Cook Islands fits into the Roundtable discussions. - SW