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DG Sheppard's Opening Statement to the 2013 Pacific Climate Change Roundtable, Nadi, Fiji

Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Fiji,
Delegates to the PCCR,
Ladies and Gentlemen

DavidS PCCR13It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the Fourth Pacific Climate Change Roundtable.

At the outset I would like to thank our most generous hosts, the Government and people of Fiji for your warm welcome and for hosting us in your beautiful country.

The series of meetings in Fiji over these two weeks is historical for addressing climate change and disaster risk reduction in the Pacific. This is the first time in our region, indeed in the world, that we have ever bought together the Climate and Disaster Risk Roundtables with the Pacific Meteorological Council.

The world is watching and our series of meetings sends a clear message that we must integrate our responses if we are to effectively address the challenges of climate change and natural disasters in this century.

Natural disasters such as Cyclone Evan which battered Samoa and Fiji late last year and the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Solomon Islands earlier this year remind us again of the power of nature and the vulnerability of Pacific nations both to climate change and to natural disasters.

I attended a conference in Japan a few days ago which was addressed by the Chair of the IPCC, Professor Pachauri. The Chair gave a sneak preview of the findings of the IPCC 5 report which will be released next year, and he noted the best estimates of IPCC are that continued emissions would lead to temperature increases between 1.8 and 4 degrees by 2100 and sea level rise will continue and accelerate.

This is bad news for our Pacific region - the most vulnerable on earth to the impacts of climate change.

The presentation noted the urgent need for action at all levels, particularly from the global community, to reduce climate change. I can only say Amen to that statement.

In our region our leaders have continually reminded us of the urgency of climate change and that it is in fact an issue of national security.

We note that many donors and partners are increasing their support to the region on climate change. This support is most welcome and is acknowledged with appreciation.

It is vitally important that donor efforts be coordinated and that they clearly and sharply address the priorities of Pacific Countries.

In this regard, I would like to highlight the work of SPREP and many other partners in Choiseul in the Solomon Islands, where a range of donors and partners have agreed to support local and national priorities. An initial modest investment was able to leverage support and cooperation from a large group of partners working on that island on ecosystem based adaptation and related issues, in particular SPREP, SPC, GIZ USAID and TNC.

By working together, CROP agencies, governments and civil society can do so much more with our limited resources.

Better and more effective partnerships, such as the work in Choiseul, are essential.

SPREP has been supporting Pacific country efforts on climate change for more than 25 years.

I'm very pleased that our internal change management process at SPREP carried out over the last few years is delivering tangible results, including a doubling of support to Pacific countries and territories.

We have developed many new partnerships as a result of our change management process. SPREP's aim is to be a good partner with others so we can better serve the countries, territories and peoples of the Pacific.

We have also increased cooperation and partnership within our own organization, including between the climate change division and other SPREP divisions on issues such as ecosystem based adaptation, and on waste management related impacts from climate change. A lesson from this is that it is important that each of us puts our own house in order, as this will strengthen our ability to develop effective external partnerships.

This emphasis on partnership is reflected in this Pacific Climate Change Roundtable.

We see the PCCR as the premier forum for discussion on climate change issues in the Pacific involving all partners and stakeholders as partners.

This is the fourth Roundtable in its current format. The first was in Samoa in 2007, the second in the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 2009, the third in Niue in 2011.

This Roundtable aims to bring key stakeholders together to discuss climate change issues and priorities, to strengthen regional coordination, and to better assist Pacific countries in addressing climate change.

The Niue Roundtable established 4 working groups - one on adaption and mainstreaming, one on mitigation, one on information and knowledge management, and one on resource mobilisation.

In line with the principle of partnership the working groups are led by different CROP agencies.

I'm pleased to note each Working Group has made good progress over the last 2 years and we will hear more at this PCCR. As just one example, the Knowledge Management Working Group has been working intensively on improving the content, look and user-friendliness of the Pacific Climate Change Portal and there will be a demonstration on Thursday evening at a joint reception with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

I'm pleased to note good progress on mitigation and adaptation in our region, including through the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) Project. It is positive to see the increasing emphasis on using nature to help Pacific countries adapt and respond to climate change, through ecosystem based adaptation.

This year's PCCR has been a team effort between CROP agencies, countries and key stakeholders. The PCCR has been a learning process for SPREP and our partners. We have "learnt as we go" and have sought to streamline and improve each PCCR to ensure it can be a better tool to assist Pacific countries in their efforts to address climate change.

Development of this Roundtable has been guided by a broad based Steering Committee. This Committee has guided the development of the programme we have in front of us today and the process we will follow.

We see this process as essential to developing ownership and ensuring long term and lasting outcomes from this roundtable.

In preparing for this PCCR a decision was taken by the steering committee that our meeting would be forward looking. I urge all the presenters and those making interventions to heed this call for us to not dwell too much on what we have done, well or otherwise, but to apply ourselves to discussing what needs to be done.

For example, do we need to expand or upscale current projects, are there new directions that we need to explore, what can we learn from other countries or regions – these are important considerations for the PCCR.

In closing I would remind participants that the PCCR is a dialogue of all interested stakeholders and not a formal meeting. I would also emphasize again the theme of this roundtable - "Building resilience to climate change through collaboration" . We see this PCCR as a partnership event and specifically a partnership event for the region.

We have gathered here the "cream of the cream" in relation to climate change experts in the Pacific region. I would urge you all to get actively involved during the week and share your expertise and experience.

Finally, I would like to Government of Fiji for their most generous support in hosting this important meeting. I would also like to thank the Steering Committee for this roundtable which has put together an excellent and ambitious programme.

I wish you all the best for a very successful roundtable. I look forward to a productive meeting.

Thank you, Faafetai Lava, Bula Vinaka
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