April 5, 2022, Apia, Samoa – Pacific island countries have reaped the benefits of using improved scientific climate data and information to inform decision-making in a variety of key sectors, through the Next Generation Climate Projections for the Western Tropical Pacific, which ended in March 2022.
The final project workshop is currently taking place over two days, and during the first day of discussions, the project team presented its main activities and deliverables to representatives of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, government officials, NGOs across the Pacific, as well as to CROP members, donors and development partners.
Some of these key activities and deliverables include the development of updated NextGen climate projections for the fourteen Pacific Island Partner countries, which covered temperature, precipitation, tropical cyclones and other extreme events, as well as sea level rise. the sea. These projections have been adapted to include a more prominent framing, better accessibility, as well as advice for applications in different sectors.
Case studies have also been developed by the project to further demonstrate the application of science to support sector applications. The practical application of these projections to inform assessments across different sectors at national and subnational levels, as well as to inform the development of new scientific knowledge on the physical impacts of climate change in Pacific island countries.
A range of communication and knowledge products have also been developed to ensure the facilitation of the journey towards long-term project impact.
The project also revealed that climate change will have a significant macroeconomic impact on the gross domestic product (GDP) of Pacific countries, even under the lowest emissions scenarios.
The NextGen project was funded by the Australian government, through the Australia-Pacific Climate Partnership. Its implementation was led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Climate Science Center in collaboration with the Climate Change Resilience Program of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) Secretariat. ).
It has been implemented in all 14 Pacific Island Partner Countries: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Originally planned to be implemented over 18 months from July 2019 to December 2020, it was extended for an additional 15 months from January 2021 to March 2022 due to COVID-19, which disrupted the deployment of project activities in the countries. Pacific Islanders. .
Speaking on behalf of the Australian Government, Ms Kirsty McNichol, Director of the Pacific Climate Change Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Australia remained a committed partner in ensuring the Pacific has access to better climate science to better inform decision-making.
She added that with the climate data provided by the NextGen project, they have been able to help root crop farmers in Fiji, cocoa farmers in Papua New Guinea and pearl farmers in the Cook Islands to make better decisions about how climate change affects them in their respective sectors. She has also received reports that this data and information has contributed to greater leadership and demonstrated behavioral change and a willingness to include climate science in decision-making.
The President of the Pacific Meteorological Council and Chief Executive of Samoa’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Lealaisalanoa Frances Reupena, acknowledged the Australian Government’s continued support of climate change science over the years, an area which, according to her, is not always attractive for financing.
“In science projects, it used to be said that we lack the capacity to participate in the development and implementation of science, however, after years of partnership, we have to change our way of seeing things. The capacity is there, but we lack resources and visibility,” said Lealaisalanoa.
She drew on the example of regional NMHS staff pursuing doctoral studies and pointed out that the current Samoa Meteorological Services Director, Dr Luteru Tauvale, also graduated from Japan with a PhD in meteorology.
“I would like to encourage future climate change science projects to invest in the capacity of our Pacific peoples. To enable our staff to not only provide information to be used for studies, but to be part of the research contributing to project results,” she challenged.
The new SPREP Director General, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, personally thanked the Australian Government for its continued support of climate change in the region and stressed the importance of having scientific data not only to inform decision-making at national levels and regional, but to support negotiations at the international level.
“The only way to effectively advocate for our region at international conferences of the parties, workshops and other global gatherings is if we have the science and data behind us to make our case. This is why projects like NextGen are so important,” said Mr. Nawadra.
He also added that he hopes the talks will not just reflect on what has been achieved, but look forward to and start the conversation about where to go and what needs to be done to improve. meet the needs of Pacific island countries.
This conversation is already underway and will take place on the second day of the workshop when discussions on the NextGen 2.0 concept document, which will facilitate discussion and planning, will take place.