PINA – 03:37 am GMT+12, 15/12/2020, Samoa
Samoa’s leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has highlighted the link between saving the ocean and saving the planet, but has warned “our biggest challenge is time.”
In his statement at the recent Pacific Islands Forum High Level Roundtable on Urgent Climate Action he affirmed Samoa would support regionalism and work with other Forum members to uphold the Kainaki Declaration on Urgent Climate Change Action “harnessing shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean and acting as one Blue Pacific continent.”
He said these approaches “are vital to addressing the challenges facing the Blue Planet, to planning and owning our development agenda, and to building the resilience of the Pacific, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Prime Minister said the development of the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy “for our Blue Pacific continent will respond to our region’s great challenges, with climate change the single greatest threat to the Blue Pacific.
At their Forum meeting in Tuvalu last year, Pacific Island leaders including Australia and New Zealand backed their ‘strongest call yet’ on climate action, reaffirming that climate change represents the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific.
The Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now calls on the International community to join the Blue Pacific to take bold, decisive and transformative action to address the challenges of climate change.
“We cannot allow COVID 19 to disrupt ambitious climate action,” said PM Tuilaepa.
He said Samoa’s enhanced Climate Change Actions “indicate our commitment to be part of the solution despite our insignificant Green House Gas emissions.”
The ten year Policy to 2030 “will ensure there is effective and coordinated implementation of our climate change obligations at all levels,” he said.
Samoa is part of the global SC1.5ENCE (SCIENCE) not SILENCE Campaign promoting advocacy and actions in line with the findings of the IPCC 1.5 degree Celsius Special Report.
The country is also on track to meet Paris Agreement targets of 100% renewable ahead of schedule, “through an accelerated uptake of low emissions technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, hydropower, biomass and biogas and carbon neutral transportation. This is a seismic shift from diesel dependence to clean energy independence,” Prime Minister Tuilaepa said.
He said securing the climate financing needed to continue down a 100 percent renewable path “will be extremely important as the transition will be dependent on new and resilient infrastructure, technology shifts towards green buildings, climate proofed roads and protection of local community assets.”
“Our revised Climate Change Policy offers a way forward for Samoa, and provides a clear mandate for the national coordination of climate change policies and actions across the whole of our society.”
Eventually national adaptation and mitigation targets will complement prevailing climate activities, and promote a multidisciplinary approach, he says, towards the Paris Agreements requirement for enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions(NDCs).
Samoa’s climate action milestones so far include:
– the integration of climate change into all sector plans – climate strategies have been completed for Agriculture, Health, Tourism, Forestry
– the development of a Green Climate Fund and GEF funded flood management control scheme for the Vaisigano Catchment area which covers the central business district and includes Infrastructural interventions (river walls) to adapt to the rainfall patterns as well as soft solutions such as payment for ecosystem services activities.
– the adoption of the Community Integrated Management Plans (CIMPs) as Adaptation interventions for district and community levels through the conservation of mangroves, marine ecosystems, forestry, water catchment as well as hard solutions such as river and seawalls to respond to the severe impacts of climate change. All contribute to enhanced resilience
– Waste to Energy has also been utilized to launch small scale biogas systems in communities.
– The 2 Million Tree campaign to contribute to mitigating carbon being released in the atmosphere has been enhanced and we have reached this target and beyond.
– Launching of the Afolau Biomass Gasification Plant (750KW), to contribute to the Renewable Energy target set under the NDC for 100% RE by 2025. The plant utilises invasive species for feedstock.
Tech partnerships for climate resilience with GridMarket’s predictive analytics, mapping technology, and competitive marketplace is aimed at helping Samoa and other nations to design, develop, and deploy distributed energy resources.
But there was a final word of caution from the Samoa Leader.
“The global transition towards renewable energy and resilient infrastructure is beginning to happen, but not at the scale or the speed required to avert the worst effects of the climate crisis. We know that the biggest challenge in the fight against climate is time,” said PM Tuilaepa.