By Joshua Lafoai of National University of Samoa School of Journalism
14 August, 2017, Honiara, Solomon Islands, PMC-4- A meteorology expert for the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Program (SPREP) says meteorological services are under-appreciated in the Pacific.
Sunny Seuseu is the Climate Predictions Services Coordinator for SPREP in Samoa. He presented a paper on the roles of Meteorology (Met) offices in the Pacific during a media training with various journalists from the region in preparation for the Pacific Meteorological Council on August 14 - 18.
Seuseu says Met offices in the region face a common problem with communication and the media is the solution. “What we need the most is communication, to be able to reach out. This is why we need to work together with the media to reach the public,” he said. Seuseu agrees that for the most part, Meteorological offices are not credited for their contribution to some of the most important parts of their countries.
Some of these responsibilities lie with aviation and agriculture. Without the Met offices’ constant data collection, parts of the Pacific population who depend on agriculture for income would face hardships.
Tonga’s Met service Director ‘Ofa Fa’anunu says building capacity for the Pacific in Met services is crucial in keeping up with the responsibilities they are dealt with everyday. Tomorrow, Fa’anunu will be presenting on Cost Recovery for Aviation services and its ties to Met services.
The focus in that presentation will be on how much support Met Services need from their government to meet standards demanded by global aviation guidelines. “We need to train real meteorologists to take on the tasks of weather management for flights. There is no gray area when it comes to aviation and met services together. Its black and white, its either you meet the standard or you don’t,” he said.
Faanunu also said the number of lives that depend on having properly trained meteorologists is why they have to meet the standards. “The safety of people who travel by plane depends on the accuracy of the weather predictions so you can’t just put anyone to do those predictions, it has to be someone qualified,” he added.
For Seuseu, the problem is that people are not fully educated on how important the role of the Met office is in their countries. “Everything in the region is growing for the Met services. We have new equipment and constant developments in the tools we use every day, but the people are lagging behind,” he said. “The reason behind them being behind is that we lack good communication with the people. It is crucial in terms of getting information out, hence why we rely so much on the media.”
The Media training is for more than 30 journalists from the region in Honiara, Solomon Islands for the 4th Pacific Meteorological Council. The training was spearheaded by SPREP. - #PacificMet #PMC4 #4PacIslands
The Fourth Pacific Meteorological Council is being held in Honiara, Solomon Islands from the 14 – 17 August co-hosted by the government of Solomon Islands, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This will followed by the Second Pacific Meteorological Ministers Meeting (PMMM) on the 18 of August.
The PMC and PMMM is supported by the Government of Solomon Islands, SPREP, WMO, Government of Australia through the Climate and Oceans Support Programme (COSPPac) and Pacific Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Programme (PACCSAP), Government of Finland, National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United Nations Development Programme through the Resilience in the Pacific (SIDS) project.
The PMC consists of members of the Pacific National Meteorological and Hydrological Services supported by its technical partners, regional organisations, non-government organisations and private sectors.
This article was developed by a Pacific Media Team of Reporters currently providing coverage on the Fourth Pacific Meteorological Council in Solomon Islands. This activity coordinated by SPREP is supported by a partnership between the Government of Solomon Islands, SPREP, Australia funded project (Climate and Oceans Support Program (COSPPac) and UNDP Disaster for Pacific SIDS (RESPAC) project.