Pelesikoti's Keynote Address Statement on behalf of SPREP's DG - Sheppard to the Pacific Meteorological Council Meeting, Tonga
• Directors, Heads and Seniors Officials from the National Meteorological Services as members of the Pacific Meteorology Council
• Ms. Elena Maneankova, Assistant Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization and your team from WMO
• Dr Matti Nummelin Senior Environment Adviser from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland
• Mr Chairman of the PMC, Ravind Kumar Director of the Fiji Meteorological Services
• UNDP Pacific Centre, CROp Agencies, SPC and USP
• Members of the Media
• Development Partners,
• Reverend Kinitoni Mafi, Secretary General of the Constitution Church of Tonga
• Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), I would like to extend to you all a warm welcome to the Third Meeting of the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC).
I regret the Director General is not here at the beginning of our Pacific Meteorological Council but he will be here on Wednesday.
Honorable Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni – I would like to thank the Government of Tonga for agreeing to host this important meeting and for availing yourself to join us this morning and to officiate the opening of the Third Meeting of the Pacific Meteorological Council.
SPREP would like to acknowledge the Government of Tonga's continued support to the development of meteorological services in the Pacific through the various contributions from the Tonga Meteorological Services. This is the second regional gathering of Directors, Heads and senior officials of National Meteorological Services from the Pacific region and our partners, hosted by Tonga. The last meeting was held in2003 under the auspices of the Regional Meteorological Services Directors(RMSD) meeting.
Specifically, I would like to acknowledge the leadership and support of the Tonga Meteorological Service, The CEO – Paula Ma'u, and Ofa Fa'anunu and his staff.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is closely supporting SPREP in organizing PMC and in that context Ms Elena Maneankova, Assistant Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization and senior staff from Geneva welcome to PMC. Your presence in this meeting signifies WMO's commitment to the Pacific and the SIDS. PMC and SPREP have benefited from having your office located at SPREP. Your staff Henry Taiki is part of the Pacific Meteorological Desk Partnership providing secretariat support to the PMC members. Rob Master and Mary Power, it is always a delight to have you back in this region.
It is 24 months since the Pacific Meteorological Council's second meeting in Nadi, Fiji Islands in July 2013. I would like to say that a lot of progress, achievements and contributions have been made collectively as a region and by each and everyone of your National Meteorological Services to safeguard the well being of your countries and contribute to your development progress.
I would like to particularly mention a few examples;
• we have seen the region make progress in the number of application tools developed to assist the NMHSs and communities to better access and translate weather and climate information for decision making. We have seen the Forest Fire Early Warning System developed for Samoa. The Malaria Climate Early Warning System developed for Solomon Islands. The Ocean Portal providing ocean data in a form that can be used for decision making. The installation of SmartMet for integrated forecasting system – to name just a few
• We have also forged new partnerships for the NMHSs some of which are attending this PMC for the very first time. I would like to acknowledge the presence of APEC, Climate Centre and the Korean Meteorological Agency and welcome their support to the region. I would also like to welcome the University of Hawai'i who are here with us this morning. The partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross is also a step in which NMHSs have taken to allow for efficient and effective dissemination of their products by community mobilisers.
• I would also like to welcome Nauru as I understand that this is their first attendance in PMC
• This PMC is also going to be well covered as we have a strong presence of more than 10 regional media and broadcasters to demonstrate their acquired skills in appropriately communicating climate science. PMC proceedings and outcomes will be communicated (almost real time) around the Pacific!
• There will also be press conferences throughout the week and I would urge you to take advantage of this rare opportunity. The FINPAC Project and PACMAS is PACMAS fully acknowledged.
While we celebrate our successes, there were also challenges that we faced as the Pacific Community. Over the past 24 months, we have had numerous weather related extreme events that affected our islands including 3 severe cyclones that tested your NMSs establishments and operations;
• We had cyclone Ian in January 2014 that devastated the Ha'apai group of Islands in Tonga
• Cyclone Pam in March 2015 that destroyed the Central and Southern Islands of Vanuatu and also affecting Kiribati and Tuvalu
• Super Typhoon Maysak in April 2015 affected the States of Yap and Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia
Recently we just witnessed a rare formation of Cyclone Raquel just on the eve of the PMC-3 meeting over the Solomon Islands outside of the cyclone season. There are also a number of cyclones that are active in the north western Pacific. I am sure these events continue to stretch the operations of the NMSs and will continue to reshape the operations of your NMHSs to ensure they are effective, relevant and are resilient. Which leads us to the theme of this meeting - "Sustainable Weather and Climate Services for a Resilient Pacific."
Weather, climate information, warnings and projections are not one off services – they are 24/7, 365 days throughout the year – it calls for capacity for continuity. Being the mechanisms that provide the warnings doesn't mean that they are not vulnerable – we need to invest in our NMHSs to enable them to continue their services in the face of disasters. Their being able to do their functions at all times lead to our own resiliency – our being able to be prepared – and respond effectively, would enable us to bounce back.
Our objective over the 4 days of the PMC is to further facilitate coordination and networking among members of the Pacific Meteorological Council, development partners, and Regional and international Organisations, relating to strengthened meteorological services.
Timely and effective implementation of national development priorities strengthened with the application of the right scientific, economic and social and ecological information leads to resilient development. The Pacific Island Meteorological Strategy reflected those priorities.
This PMC meeting is special, not only because it is held in the Kingdom of Tonga but we will be joined by the Ministers for the First Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology to be held on Friday in this very room.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our development partners for their continued assistance to support the Pacific Meteorological Desk Partnership as the regional meteorological services coordination mechanism to deliver regionally coordinated efforts to service SPREP members' needs in the areas of meteorological services.
Convening this meeting was made possible with the following support:
• The Government of Tonga for their generous support in hosting and on logistics, staffing support particularly from the Tonga Met. Service,
• The Government of Finland through the FINPAC project for the significant financial support
• The World Meteorological Organisation for both the financial and advisory and technical support
• The government of Australia through the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the COSPPac Project
• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and,
• The APEC Climate Center
I would also like to acknowledge the contribution and guidance of the following partners to develop the program for PMC-3; NOAA, WMO, NZ Met Services, NIWA, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Samoa Met Division, Tonga Met Service, Marshal Islands Met Service.
We have a full week ahead of us, to discuss very important, emerging and continuing issues and priorities relating to meteorological services in the Pacific region.
I wish you all a fruitful discussion during the next few days. Do take time out to enjoy the cool weather of Tonga and to spend your perdiem!