By Yvette T D’Unienville of Tuvalu Broadcasting Services
17 August, 2017, Honiara, Solomon Islands, PMC-4 – The Finnish-Pacific (FINPAC) project is wrapping up the Pacific countries with a stark reminder to other projects and organisations that weather and climate is a never-ending story and the work has to go on.
FINPAC will wind up next month and has called on other regional organisations and partners to continue the good work it has started in the region to reduce the vulnerability of Pacific island country villagers’ livelihoods to the effects of climate change.
At the 4th Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC-4) meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Climate and Meteorology Officer of the Secretariat of the Environmental Programme (SPREP), Salesa Nihmei, said communication through stories is one of the key highlight of the four-year (2012-2015) regional project.
“One of the key achievements of the FINPAC Project in the region was engaging the media for the first time to tell the stories of the Pacific Meteorological Council to the people in their countries.
“The media coverage of the PMC supported by FINPAC at the PMC-3 in 2015 in Tonga now got support from Climate and Oceans Support Program (COSPPac) and the United Nation Development Program – Disaster Resilience for Pacific (RESPAC) project to attend again at this meeting.”
Council members expressed their appreciation to FINPAC for a job well done.
A tanoa (kava bowl) was presented by SPREP Director General Kosi Latu at the meeting today to as a token of appreciation from the region to Dr Matti Nummelin, Senior Environmental Adviser for Sector Policy at Department for Development Policy in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Finland.
He also thanked the previous manager of the FINPAC Project Christina Leala Gale.
The first Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology was another outcome of the FINPAC project aimed at raising the visibility of the NMHSs and gain support from political leaders. This was successfully hosted in Tonga in July 2015 and now established to also meet regularly with the PMC meetings.
FINPAC worked with 14 countries including Tuvalu. There they conducted a baseline survey for the Teone area on weather and climate information and traditional knowledge and as a result developed a community climate and disaster resilience plan.
They also developed a monthly climate bulletin that is translated into Tuvaluan, and strengthened partnerships between the national meteorological service, Red Cross, Tuvalu media, local fishermen and the Disaster Management Office.
Across the region, the project has also introduced integrated forecasting and warning tools that are now used operationally in some National Meteorological Services (NHMSs).
Mr Nihmei said the FINPAC approach in engaging communities on community-based early warning system has now been adopted by the International Federation of Red Cross in the projects it carried out in the region with National Red Cross Societies.
“Some you may ask why Red Cross?” Mr Nihmei said to the meteorology directors.
He then gave the floor to Olivia Warrick, of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Center, who said Red Cross was presence in all the Pacific countries.
“National Red Cross societies are supported by a global network such as the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), which provides secretarial services to national societies, and the Red Cross society climate center is also present in the Pacific countries.
“The National Red Cross societies are legally mandated to support the governments of the country in disaster management and has the expertise in community volunteering network in all national branches,” added Ms Warrick.
In some countries, FINPAC has engaged weather forecasters for the first time with communities to discuss how their products can be improved and used for decision making.
FINPAC also supported the use of traditional knowledge of weather and climate forecasting for people in communities.
“A compendium of the many stories collected from the Pacific countries are being published and distributed to the Pacific countries and partner organisations to demonstrate how weather and climate information can be used to support different sectors,” added Nihmei.
Other NGOs and partners are now also actively engaging the national meteorological services to assist with community-based activities.
FINPAC also contributed to the operations of the national meteorological services observations systems.
“In support, to strengthen the observations systems, we did an assessment in all the Pacific regions and based on the assessment, we acquired observation equipments.
FINPAC has strengthened the role of the Pacific Met Desk Partnership at SPREP in providing the services and support to its member countries and provided a lot of lessons learned for future projects. – #PMC4 #Pacificmet
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.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) or the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)both of which provided funding for generating media articles.