The New Zealand Government has committed to work together with Japan to support the regional success of the Pacific Climate Change Centre, said New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters, speaking at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru today.
“New Zealand is committed to supporting climate change action across the Pacific and we see the Pacific Climate Change Centre as a key regional institution,” said Mr Peters.
Top Photo. Apia, Samoa, Friday 20 July, 2018 – Foundations have been laid at the site of the new Pacific Climate Change Centre being built on the campus of SPREP, the Secretariat for the Pacific Region Environmental Programme . Photo credit: SPREP.
Funded by the Government of Japan at an estimated cost of just under $8million USD, the construction on the Pacific Climate Change Centre began in May at the paradise-like campus of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Environment Programme (SPREP) in Samoa. Construction is expected to be completed by July 2019.
The building programme, being carried out by Konoike, a Japanese construction company with a long track record in major building projects in Japan and internationally, is overseen by a steering group of stakeholders from SPREP member nations, partners and donors including the Government of Japan. The design for the regional climate centre follows sustainable environmental building principles.
At the groundbreaking ceremony in May, Japan’s Ambassador to Samoa His Excellency Maugaoleatuolo Shinya Aoki said, “We all agree in the necessity of taking a holistic and long-term approach to addressing climate change.”
“To this end, Japan intends to provide comprehensive assistance, in collaboration with the lead agency on climate change in the Pacific Region, SPREP, including the development of the PCCC and capacity-building which supports the efforts for tackling climate change by the Pacific region as a whole,” he said.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Mr Peters said New Zealand will build on Japan’s significant support and is pleased to be contributing up to $3 million NZD for the Climate Change Centre.
Speaking to PacificEyeWitness today from the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru, SPREP Director General Leota Kosi Latu said the announcement sends a positive signal to the region as part of New Zealand’s Pacific Reset.
“We’re excited about it, ” he said. “This is a tangible way of demonstrating that approach to engaging with the Pacific on an issue that is of critical importance for the region.”
SPREP is the Pacific region’s member country organisation representing the environment and natural resources interests of the Pacific region’s 21 island nations including US and French territories. Australia, New Zealand, France, USA and the United Kingdom make up the five developed nations in SPREP.
Leota said the commitment from Japan and New Zealand sends a very powerful message to the region and to other partners.
“It’s a signal that I hope will be picked up by other partners who have expressed interest but I suppose we’ll wait to see what happens. For the region, it’s an extremely positive gesture. Well it’s more than a gesture,” he said.
A number of technical and scientific agencies have expressed an interest in working closely with SPREP to provide support to countries to come up with innovative solutions. Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is one possible partnership out of a number from other SPREP member countries.
In the official statement from New Zealand and Japan, it states the countries will work in close partnership with SPREP in Apia:
- Japan is planning to implement a technical cooperation project with SPREP from mid-2019 to assist countries in the Pacific region in enhancing their capacities through training programmes at the Pacific Climate Change Centre.
- New Zealand is planning to provide the Pacific Climate Change Centre with the necessary human resources, including for example exploring a mechanism to deploy climate change experts to Pacific Island countries.
Has New Zealand already spoken to SPREP about its human resource contribution and what that looks like? “They haven’t given us the details yet, said SPREP’s Director-General Mr Latu. “They had given us a heads up about the announcement so I guess we will be getting the fine print soon.”
“A key component of the Pacific Climate Change Centre is partnership so one of the things that we will be looking at is whether we can galvanise support and partnership to progress the work of the Climate Change Centre.”
“There are a few other human resource opportunities there including a manager for the Climate Change Centre. We’ve had some discussions with New Zealand officials in the past but we’ll wait and see when we get the paperwork,” he said.
New Zealand has also stated it will explore a mechanism to dispatch climate change experts to Pacific island countries.
“We’ve always insisted on using Pacific Island experts so we have what is called the IGSM register for the rapid deployment of experts. We already have a list of experts from around the region. We’re not looking for consultants to come in and tell us what we already know,” said SPREP Director General Leota Kosi Latu.
Could Australia pitch in here and help the Pacific Climate Change Centre? I can’t speak for Australia,” he said.
“I would love to see some support in terms of the climate change centre but we’ll just have to wait and see. There’s been a lot happening politically in the Australia Government…but I would obviously be pleased to see any kind of support come from Australia.”
The regional centre, when it opens next year, will be a pre-eminent regional hub and centre of excellence for climate change issues. It will provide training, facilitate research, and coordinate regional actions on climate change issues.