Pacific islanders benefit from AOSIS climate fellowship program

9 November, 2016, UNFCCC COP22, Marrakech, Morocco - From the islands to New York, five of our very own Pacific islanders have strengthened their professional development through the Climate Change Fellowship Program established by the Alliance of Small Island States.

Started in 2014, the programme brings earlier career professionals from AOSIS member countries to their country mission offices in New York to undergo comprehensive training on climate change issues, including attendance to the United Nations and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Fellows from Fiji, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu have been recipients of the opportunity which spans a year with 80% of their time focussed on AOSIS related matters and 20% on national issues. All fellows must also attend twice weekly meetings over the duration of their fellowship as well as the official conferences of the UNFCCC as members of their national delegations.

"It is a great experience and great exposure for me," said Ms Losana Latu of the Climate Change Department in Tonga, she is based with the Tonga Mission in New York having started the fellowship in March this year. Her fellowship with AOSIS ends this December.

"It has helped me take the national issues that I am familiar with, and be able to assimilate and identify them in this international process. I am enjoying it while also growing my personal development as working and living in New York is very different from Tonga!"
 
AOSIS CCF
 
The 12 AOSIS Climate Change Fellows, past and current, at the twenty-second Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco. Photo: SPREP

Funded by the European Union, and more recently, the Netherlands, the programme is coordinated by the Chair of AOSIS which also facilitates the curriculum. Island countries which have National Mission Offices in New York endorse the applications of their fellows who are expected to return to their home governments and continue to engage on these issues while remaining in the UNFCCC process.

All of the 12 former fellows including the five currently enrolled in the programme are currently attending the twenty-second Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP22) now underway in Marrakech, Morocco.

"This helped me a lot, the reason why I applied in the first place because I worked in a Ministry where we dealt with a lot of mitigation, but there was a gap between my understanding of this negotiation process and my work," said Ms. Simalua Enele of Tuvalu. She started her fellowship in January 2015 and ended after the COP21 in Paris last December and now works for Tuvalu, still remaining in the UN Climate Change negotiations process.

"For me this has been very successful. It is different from learning in a classroom as you are actually in the negotiations, you work in offices with diplomats from many different countries and it is such a great experience. You do more than read about it in a textbook, you do the practical work while learning about the process."

In 2014 the fellows were selected from Cabo Verde and Fiji, in 2015 they were from Belize, Tuvalu, Maldives, Nauru and Seychelles. This year the fellows are from Maldives, Mauritius, Tonga, Solomon Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

All 12 AOSIS Climate Change Fellows, both past and current, are at the twenty-second Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco from 7 – 18 November, 2016.

For more information on the AOSIS Climate Fellowship Programme please contact: Amelia Linn, amelia.linn@aosis.org
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