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United States SPC SPREP sign climate adaptation partnership

United States Government, Secretariat of the Pacific Community and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme Announce Climate Adaptation Partnerships

Partnerships are part of a $21 million US Government adaptation programme in Pacific Small Island Developing States

Thursday 8 September 2011, Auckland, NZ The United States Government today formally joined forces with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to advance climate change adaptation. These partnerships are part of a larger USD 21 million ‘fast start’ finance commitment made by the US for a climate change adaptation programme for Pacific Small Island Developing States.

Welcoming the formal commitment to partnership, Dr Jimmie Rodgers, Director-General of SPC said, ‘This support from the United States is ground-breaking. It represents a new partnership approach to working with regional organisations that will help bring together many aspects of support aimed at complementing and strengthening the capacity of the participating countries to respond to the challenges of climate change.’

David Sheppard, SPREP Director, also welcomed the US support, which he said would make a major contribution to helping Pacific Island countries adapt to climate change. He noted ‘This support will focus on the priorities identified by countries, with a particular emphasis on building local capacity.’

Through these partnerships, the United States, SPC and SPREP will strengthen the capacity of countries and communities in the Pacific Islands to improve food security and water security, and protect critical ecosystems. The partnerships will also help these countries access information about climate impacts to enable more effective and sustainable decision-making in the face of climate change. The partnerships were announced at a formal signing ceremony at the margins of the Pacific Island Forum and Post-Forum Dialogue, where representatives from the US Department of State and US Agency for International Development were joined by representatives from SPC and SPREP.

Thomas R. Nides, Deputy Secretary of State, US Department of State said, ‘The United States recognises that climate change poses a significant threat to the development and security of Pacific Islands. We have prioritised efforts to expand US bilateral and multilateral adaptation assistance and are committed to helping Pacific Small Island Developing States adapt to the impacts of climate change.’

Rainfall changes and extreme weather events have the potential to cause heightened food security challenges for small island states in coming decades. As a result, the US and SPC have partnered to strengthen food security among communities in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The US and SPREP have partnered to improve the ability of communities in Kiribati to address the impact of climate change on water resources and help Kiribati’s Ministry of Health integrate adaptation into national health planning and policies. They will also work together to promote healthy ecosystems in Solomon Islands.

The US will manage the $21 million programme through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which will open an office in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, this year.

According to Nisha Biswal, Assistant Administrator, ‘USAID is committed to the success of these programmes. As the implementing US government agency, USAID looks forward to collaborating with SPC and SPREP to combat the climate adaptation challenges of the Pacific Islands.’

Last year, US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, announced the $21 million US ‘fast start’ finance assistance for Pacific small island states over two years (20102011). The funding is a part of a larger commitment from the US to work with developed country partners to provide ‘fast start’ financing from 2010 to 2012 and was included in the negotiated packages agreed to at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen and Cancun.

Dr Rodgers said many of the projected impacts of climate change would be pronounced in small islands. ‘Climate change will touch the lives of people living on these islands on a regular basis. For them it is about how food security can be sustained, how health is protected, how education is enhanced, how the water supply is safeguarded, how coastal areas are protected, how human settlements are climate proofed and how the impact of high water surges and flooding can be reduced.

ENDS__________________________

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