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South-South in the news
This news area is dedicated to activities carried out under the ongoing South-South project between the Pacific and the Caribbean, established to strengthen the safety and resilience of both regions in facing common threats. For more information regarding the project and its activities, please contact Karen Bernard (UNDP Pacific Centre) or Jacinda Fairholm (CRMI).
The South-South Project between Pacific and Caribbean SIDS on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management is grateful for the support of the UNDP Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and the Japan-UNDP Partnership Fund.
Looking South Across the Oceans: watch it online
Exchanges between the Pacific and the Caribbean have been captured in the film Looking South Across the Oceans: Promoting Cooperation Among Small Island Developing States, which tell the story of how small island developing states (SIDS) in both regions have embarked on a journey to share knowledge and experiences to strengthen the resilience of their communities to natural disasters and climate change. It highlights that many adaptable solutions to the challenges posed by natural disasters can be found by looking South.
The clip is also available at UNDP's YouTube channel.
Looking South Across the Oceans: Pacific and Caribbean SIDS share experiences
A film demonstrating South-South co-operation in action between the Caribbean and the Pacific was showcased at a signature Caribbean disaster risk management conference yesterday.
"Looking South Across the Oceans: Promoting Cooperation Among Small Island Developing States" was featured at a film festival at the 5th Annual Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management, currently underway at Montego Bay in Jamaica. The keynote speaker at the conference, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Hon. Bruce Golding, MP emphasized the vulnerability of small island developing states (SIDS) to disasters and the impact of climate change.
The film focuses on the vulnerability faced by island nations and tells the story of how SIDS in the Pacific and Caribbean have embarked on a journey to share knowledge and experiences to strengthen the resilience of their communities to natural disasters and climate change. It highlights that many adaptable solutions to the challenges posed by natural disasters can be found by looking South.
The film focuses on the project "South-South Cooperation between Pacific and Caribbean Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management" which encourages a systematic sharing of knowledge and experiences to strengthen community safety and resilience to a range of natural disasters in both regions.
The project is coordinated by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre, with extensive support from the regional UNDP programme Caribbean Risk Management Initiative (CRMI). Partners in the Caribbean include Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), INSMET (National Cuban Meteorological Institute), CARICOM Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and University of the West Indies (UWI). Key partners from the Pacific region include the Pacific Islands Applied Geo-Science Commission (SOPAC), South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and University of the South Pacific (USP). National agencies in both regions also play an important role.
The project is supported by the UNDP's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and by the UNDP-Japan Partnership Fund.
The film was viewed by more than 60 people at the film festival and received much positive feedback. Those who viewed the film included Caribbean national and regional disaster risk managers, representatives of UN agencies, development partners and the academia.
References to the advantages of South-South co-operation, as showcased in the film were also made during various presentations at the technical sessions of the conference today.
In-depth experiences from the Pacific in the areas of economic impact assessment of disasters were shared at the conference by SOPAC's Manager Natural Resources Governance, Paula Holland, whose attendance at the conference has been supported by UNDP through the South South project.
Ms Holland's presentation focused on the economic impact assessment of the January 2009 floods in Fiji, carried out by SOPAC in partnership with the Government of Fiji, Red Cross and UNDP. Her presentation sparked a lively discussion on the methods used in the assessment as well as early warning systems.
The Pacific will feature again tomorrow's during a partner consultation on the South South project.
For further information contact: Shobhna Decloitre, Communications Associate, UNDP Pacific Centre on email@example.com
Climate smart agriculture and Pacific views
Food security struggles of the Pacific islands caused by climate change, and how we are altering our way of life to meet them was showcased during the Cancun Climate Change Talks.
"Is climate-smart agriculture possible?" was the heading of the event organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Pacific examples of work were presented by Dr Netatua Pelesikoti, Programme Manager for Pacific Futures of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). One of the main features of the popular event was the work done under the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project (PACC) which focuses on three priority areas - food security, coastal processes and water.
"Although each participating Pacific island country focuses on activities in any one of the national priority areas, the three are inter-connected when it comes to food security in the context of climate change impacts. For example prolonged drought periods, changing rainfall periods or salt water intrusion require climate-smart methods of cultivation, water conservation and new crops that are more resistant to changing climate variables" said Dr Pelesikoti.
"Our Pacific countries have selected their priority areas and are now working on practical 'on the ground' projects to adapt".
PACC is the first Pacific region project which has accessed the special climate change fund by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it is a pilot project that will end in 2012 and covers 13 Pacific island countries and implemented through SPREP.
Dr Pelesikoti acknowledges that while these are significantly important projects for the Pacific, long term continual of such programmes is very important to ensure that Pacific islands countries resilient are strengthened and lessons learned from these pilot projects are replicated in other sectors in the country.
"Projected ocean acidification and changing pattern of ocean circulation and warming will adversely affect marine food sources and livelihoods for all the people of the Pacific when inshore and offshore key subsistence and commercial species are impacted by climate change. Needless to stress, we need further assistance and support to help address the many challenges of climate change and food security in a changing climate. This is a key adaptation strategy not only at the national level but to the last man or woman at the community level struggling to put food on the table for his or her family"
For more information on the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project please visit http://www.sprep.org/climate_change/PACC/country.htm
Pacific Solution Exchange Development Effectiveness Community (PSE-DEC) launched
The Pacific Solution Exchange has launched a discussion on "Effective Resourcing to Address Climate Change". Since its launch in October, the PSE-DEC has grown to over 750 members from all Pacific Island Countries including from governments, CSOs, private sector, academia and development partners. It is continuing to grow steadily with increasing membership from fellow practitioners in the Caribbean, Oceania and Asia.
The PSE-DEC provides an opportunity to share knowledge and expertise by contributing to these discussions using a cost effective approach that encourages cross-sector, south-south and SIDS sharing.
To join the discussion please sign up at http://www.solutionexchange-un.net/pacific/dec/decsignup.html. At the end of the discussion, a consolidated reply will be issued. The first consolidated reply on accelerating achievement of the MDGs in the Pacific can be downloaded at http://www.solutionexchange-un.net/repository/pc/dec/edisc1-en-05102010-1.pdf (470 KB)
Pacific Solution Exchange Development Effectiveness Community (PSE-DEC) launched
We are pleased to officially launch the trial of the Pacific Solution Exchange Development Effectiveness Community (PSE-DEC), offering members the opportunity to connect with, share and learn from each other through a facilitated email-based knowledge service. The PSE-DEC is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the University of the South Pacific (USP).
The PSE-DEC is based on UNDP’s successfully proven methodology known as Solution Exchange, an approach that will help members to better share experiences and seek the views of others when they have challenges or are seeking a solution to a problem. It will also provide an avenue for ongoing dialogue between a wide range of development actors from government, civil society, private sector, academia, regional organizations and development partners. More importantly, the PSE-DEC will allow for more consistent, regular, and cost-effective exchanges outside of face to face forums between widely dispersed practitioners across the Pacific islands.
As a member of the PSE-DEC, we encourage your active participation in the email-based discussions which will be centered around the following key themes:
- E-Discussion 1: Accelerating Progress towards the Achievement of the MDGs in the Pacific (Oct 2010)
- E-Discussion 2: Climate Change Resourcing (Nov 2010)
- E-Discussion 3: Key Priorities and Actions for Strengthening Development Cooperation in the Pacific (Dec 2010)
Participation is open to any person, is voluntary and free. To subscribe please visit the following link: www.solutionexchange-un.net/pacific/dec/decsignup.html.
South-South exchange - Visit to the Yasawas Island
PACIFIC AND CARIBBEAN COME TOGETHER TO SHARE EXPERIENCES
Sitting on woven mats in the middle of the common green, the women of the Naviti Island community, in the Yasawas Island group, shared with the Caribbean delegation that when the cyclone comes they gather their fishing nets and shelve them high up in their homes, and the men move their boats inland to the mangroves to prevent any damage. Every year one or more of the hundreds of island communities in Fiji are vulnerable to the impact of annual cyclones, potentially causing massive damage, economic and social upheaval. The Yasawas group sits on the western most edge of Fiji, and is typically vulnerable to south-west pacific cyclones. The cyclone season is from November – April in the South Pacific and runs contrary to the Caribbean Atlantic hurricane season.
Remote island communities, such as the Gunu village, draw on traditional knowledge as well as recently developed community disaster plans to cope with the threat of cyclones. Their grandfathers could read the winds and interpret the behaviours of the birds; now radio communications with the mainland helps them keep alert. The recent training series with Pacific Community-focused Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction Project (PCIDRR) has allowed the community to form disaster committees and write-up a plan. As part of this exercise, the community recently ran a tsunami exercise drill; the school children practiced dropping their belongings and moved quickly up the emergency route to a higher point on the hill.
Nicole Williams of the International Federation of the Red Cross Caribbean Regional office commented that "the achievement of the disaster plan is that the community sat down to talk about cyclones and disaster preparation and has identified ways to work together". The Fijians shared that their culture is based on oral tradition. During the back and forth of conversation between the Yasawas islanders and Caribbean delegation, it emerged that the best way to help incorporate the written plan into the daily life of the village would be to share it verbally at community gatherings or translate it into a song or a story. This is the next step to strengthen community resilience.
Pacific Partnering with the Caribbean for Better Mitigation of Natural Disasters and Climate Change
Cooperation between the Pacific and the Caribbean in the area of disaster risk reduction and climate change started many years ago, a regional workshop for disaster risk managers heard today.Carlos Fuller, the Deputy Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre made this point during a presentation at the 5th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Disaster Risk Management Partnership Network that ended in Suva. Speaking during the session "Reflections from the Caribbean SIDS on Forging Regional Partnerships and Multi Stakeholder Involvement", Mr Fuller said that when the Caribbean countries decided to have a Masters programme in climate change they started looking at what universities in other parts of the world were doing.
"We got relevant syllabus from the University of the South Pacific and developed the curriculum. Our Masters programme has now been running for the past eight years," said Mr Fuller.
He is part of a group of specialists from the Caribbean currently in Fiji to share their experiences with their Pacific counterparts. The group from the Caribbean also included Dr Asha Kambon , the Caribbean regional adviser at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Nicole Williams, the Disaster Management Officer for the International Federation of the Red Cross, Caribbean Regional Representation Office in Port of Spain; Tomás Gutiérrez, the Director General of the Institute of Meteorology and Permanent Representative of Cuba with the World Meteorological Organization; and Jacinda Fairholm, a regional program manager for the UNDP Caribbean Risk Management Initiative (CRMI) based out of the UNDP-Cuba office.
Mr Fuller also shared the experience of how countries in the Caribbean are undertaking climate modeling. In the Caribbean, the present models are being downscaled to provide the high resolution scenarios required by small islands. He said this offers detailed information on how the climate scenarios in the future could impact on rain fall patterns, temperature and the length of the wet and dry seasons and consequently the impact of these changes on agricultural production. Accurate climate modeling will help authorities prepare for and mitigate potential impacts; for example, in Belize the climate modeling scenarios are being applied to the production of sugar cane as well as citrus, both of which are major export commodities.
The Caribbean visit comes a month after a Pacific delegation toured four Caribbean countries - Jamaica, Cuba, Barbados and St Lucia – to meet disaster risk management and climate changes specialists and visit projects. Alonzo Kyota, the Director of the National Emergency Management Office, in Palau was a member of this delegation. He said he was impressed with the way gender was integrated in the disaster risk management plans and leadership in Caribbean countries.
"One of the highlights of my visit was to see how the Caribbean countries addressed gender concerns in the areas of disaster risk management. I intend to integrate gender better in disaster risk management programmes in my country as a result of what I saw in practice in the Caribbean," said Mr. Kyota.
The Caribbean and the Pacific will continue collaboration through the exchange of knowledge and expertise, facilitated by the "South-South Cooperation between Pacific and Caribbean Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management" project. The project is funded by UNDP's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and by the UNDP-Japan Partnership Fund.
South-south exchange to strengthen the safety and resilience of Pacific and Caribbean SIDS communities continues…
PACIFIC AND CARIBBEAN COME TOGETHER TO SHARE EXPERIENCES
The group from the Caribbean is composed of : Dr Asha Kambon, Caribbean regional adviser at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Carlos Fuller, Deputy Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre; Nicole Williams, Disaster Management Officer for the International Federation for Red Cross; Tomás Gutiérrez, Director General of the Institute of Meteorology and Permanent Rep. of Cuba with World Meteorological Organization; Jacinda Fairholm, Regional program manager for the UNDP Caribbean Risk Management Initiative (CRMI).
The Caribbean group's visit has been facilitated through the "South-South Cooperation between Pacific and Caribbean Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management". The project aims to achieve strengthened safety and resilience of Pacific and Caribbean SIDS communities to a range of natural hazards. The project is funded by UNDP's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and by the UNDP-Japan Partnership Fund, with in-kind contributions from UNDP Pacific Centre from where it is coordinated.
The Caribbean group's visit comes a month after the Pacific delegation's visit to four Caribbean countries.
Pacific and Caribbean come together to share experiences
Pacific Islanders working to reduce the risk of natural disasters and combat the effects of climate change in their island nations will meet with their Caribbean counterparts to engage in an exchange of technologies, ideas and expertise. The exchange is part of the South-South project established to strengthen the safety and resilience of both regions in facing common threats based on the similar geography of small islands and is taking place from 10-23 July across four Carribbean countries.
The exchange will centre on the common threats to both regions such as accelerating climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of related disasters; tropical cyclones and seawater flooding, and the consequent damages and setbacks for human development. In addition to comparing methodologies and techniques for the management and mitigation of such hazards the meetings will provide an opportunity to confirm project activities for 2010 and 2011.
The seven Pacific participants include representatives from South-South partners including the Pacific Islands Applied Geo-Science Commission (SOPAC), South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), University of the South Pacific (USP) as well as national experts from the Meterological Services Tonga, National Emergency Management Office Palau, the Maldivian Meteorological Service in addition to participation from South-South project coordinator, UNDP Pacific Centre.
Stop #1 - Jamaica
The Pacific delegation is bound for the Caribbean. Composed of six delegation members from regional agencies, meteorological services and disaster managers, the delegation's first stop was Kingston, Jamaica, to learn about the approach to disaster risk management undertaken by the national Office for Disaster and Emergency Management (ODPEM). ODPEM is recognized as one of the most effective national disaster management agencies in the region; Director, Mr. Ronald Jackson, explained that the overarching goal of Jamaica's disaster management system is to make Jamaica's population resilient to recurring hazards such as hurricanes, floods and landslides.
The first day started with presentations to the visitors on topics of joint interest, including an overview of ODPEM's disaster management system and examples of disaster risk reduction initiatives currently under way in the country. Ways to integrate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in key sector's such as tourism and agriculture was discussed at length, given that SIDS countries share these common economic drivers which are vulnerable to climate variability.
One specific area of interest was an ODPEM survey project about the perception of climate change impacts and causes among Jamaican farmers and fisher folk in four rural communities. "Hurricane hackle up di bottom of di sea like marl road' noted one fisherman. This idea of a survey resonated with the Pacific delegates; it can help identify coping strategies, as well as gaps in climate change awareness to be addressed.
Ms. Netatua Pelesikoti of SPREP remarked on the extensive capacity in the Caribbean, and suggested, "instead of always looking north we can also look across to the Caribbean for technical assistance".
The afternoon meetings included representatives from Jamaica's Meteorology Office, who talked about tsunami warnings and the enhanced priority given to timely warnings in view of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The Caribbean has several fault lines running through, making Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic and Cuba vulnerable to seismic risk; in the Pacific, Tonga and Vanuatu are located in seismic zones and have faced tsunamis, most recently in Samoa. To get a sense of disaster risk reduction in action, Mr. Clive Blakey of Jamaica's Water Resource Authority toured the group around various points on Rio Cobre River, where a flood early warning system has recently been established to cover an extensive flood plain on the outskirts of Kingston. Of much interest to the delegation was the dual nature of the system; it operates both manually and automatically, and relies on trained community members to provide a simple yet effective monitoring and warning system for the population downstream. The question of how communications channels can remain open and operational 24 hours a day resulted in good discussion, given that Fiji faces similar geomorphological characteristics as Jamaica and had a severe flood experience in 2009.
Wrapping up the visit to Jamaica, Mr. Ronald Jackson of ODPEM acknowledged that Jamaica has come a long way in the last several decades, but there is still more to learn and that the Pacific – Caribbean south-south cooperation project can offer insights towards achieving greater resiliency.
Stop #2 - Cuba
After much travel from the other side of the world, the 7 person delegation from small islands developing states (SIDS) from the Pacific and the Indian Ocean were able to spend four days in Cuba July 14th – 18th, as part of an Exchange activity of the South-South cooperation Project between SIDS on Climate change adaptation and disaster risk management". This project is funded by the Japanese government and by NDP's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation.
The Cuba leg started out with a welcome meeting in the UNDP office, where Karen Bernard of UNDP-Pacific Centre presented the project's objectives and Litea Biukoto explained the role of the regional agency known as Pacific Islands' Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) and the context of disasters in the Pacific. After a delicious lunch overlooking the sea, the group was invited to join National Civil Defense specialists at the Casablanca headquarters. With only 38 disaster related deaths in the past decade, the Cuban Civil Defense is recognized for its commitment to protecting the population: its practices in evacuation, emergency communications, risk planning and simulation exercises define Cuba as a world leader in disaster management.
The strength of Cuba's civil defense system was visible on the day-long tour of the neighbouring province. Pinar del Rio was hit by two consecutive Category 3 & 4 hurricanes (Ike and Gustav) in the fall of 2008, causing 10 billion USD in damage. The delegation had the opportunity to dialogue with local representatives of Civil Defense and visit a Risk Reduction Management Centre, which comprehensively manages territorial risk information for planning and preparedness purposes. The post-2008 hurricane recovery process was illustrated by stops to see a small-scale brick-making industry to support local livelihoods and the new 35 family community of hurricane resistant houses. In Bacunagua, a small community of 2500 people, the president of the Defense Zone spoke about the early warning system that links their vulnerable community with the municipal centre.
The exchange finished on Friday with a meeting at the Cuban National Institute of Meteorology (INSMET). Ms. Netataua Pelesikoti gave a presentation on the climate change programs and activities of SOPAC. INSMET in turn shared three areas of expertise: early weather warning systems, regional climate change modeling and agro-meteorology. The delegation toured the facility, observing the satellite imagery and the radar system that INSMET employs for accurate weather forecasts. Dr. Jose Rubiera stressed the importance of the role of meteorologists in reducing risks by communicating clear, simple and calm messages to the public. The delegation agreed that this would be an area to explore in terms of future exchanges. Mr. Abdul Ramiz of the Maldives summed up the week in Cuba: "Cuba is an example of how much can be accomplished with political will and human capacity – and how to work within the limits of existing resources."
Stop #3 - Barbados
The Pacific delegation has made it to Barbados! On Monday, the group spent the morning with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), one of the key Caribbean partners in the South-South Cooperation project. CDEMA is a regional inter-governmental agency responsible for disaster management, as established in 1991 by the CARICOM states.
On receiving the Pacific delegation at CDEMA, Executive Director Mr. Jeremy Collymore noted that both regions share the dilemma of living in a "paradise full of hazards." SIDS countries in both the Pacific and the Caribbean have common vulnerabilities such as small populations, concentration of housing and critical infrastructure in coastal areas, and rely heavily on tourism as one of the few sources of income.
After learning about CDEMA's comprehensive disaster risk reduction programming, the group took advantage of the presence of CDEMA staff to discuss challenges and achievements in implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action in the region, how to build community resilience and how to advance gender-sensitive risk reduction strategies. Mr. Collymore highlighted to need to plan next steps to further cement the Caribbean-Pacific relationship, including the designation of focal points from each regional agency to continue dialogue on priority issues, such as monitoring and evaluation, emergency communications, and regional response mechanisms. To strengthen the inter-regional partnership, there is a committment from CDEMA to include meteorological personnnel from both regions in the 5th Comprehensive Disaster Management "Strengthening Partnerships for Resilience" Conference in Jamaica in December 2010. SOPAC has also volunteered to facilate a session at CDM 2010 on community post-disaster socio-economic impact assessment, a tool employed in Fiji to examine the extent of the impact of the 2009 floods on small businesses and households. The CDM 2010 is shaping up to be a systematic venue for further Caribbean – Pacific collaboration and sharing.
While in Barbados, the delegation will also be visting the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydroloy (CIMH), Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Department of Emergency Management (DEM) and UNDP Barbados and the OECS.
Stop #4 - Saint Lucia
The Pacific delegation is visiting the last island – Saint Lucia - of their Caribbean mission. On July 21st, the group met with Ms. Dawn French, the Director of National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) and her staff and volunteers. Saint Lucia's NEMO structure and function is considered one of the best examples of a small sized national disaster management office operating in a SIDS country facing multiple hazards.
The topic of gender equality in disaster planning, preparedness and response generated substantial discussion. NEMO staff pointed out that the vast majority of their community-level volunteers are women, but men are quick to step up and take on tasks such as search and rescue when an emergency strikes. Ms. French pointed out that this willingness to help presents its own challenges as a disaster results in a sudden influx of male volunteers who have not any previous training or participated in disaster planning.
In Saint Lucia there are vulnerabilities and capacities linked to socially–prescribed gender roles that should be considered in developing effective disaster management. For example, men with several ex-wives and children find themselves over-burdened by demands from multiple families at the moment of a disaster. Elderly men are often left alone during severe disasters; children may feel no obligation to protect their elderly father, particularly if he abandoned when they were younger and left the mother to raise them. While men in Saint Lucia are normally considered strong and capable, in such circumstance they have been identified as among the most vulnerable.
The Pacific shared its experience in providing training to local organizations in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Samoa on gender dimensions of disaster risk management. In Samoa, there is a need for male facilitators to provide this training and recently two young Samoan men have been engaged to take on this task. Men in Solomon Islands took the initiative to document case studies focused on gender issues that emerged in the 2007 tsunami. The Pacific has interesting examples of how men can be engaged as champions for greater gender sensitivity in disaster management.
In terms of early warnings and tsunamis, the Pacific has a higher incidence of tsunami impacts and is making progress on establishing a regional tsunami information centre. Members of the Pacific delegation explained how to ensure successful tsunami drills and preparedness. In Saint Lucia, efforts and centered on training and employing the police and fire fighting force to emit rapid and effective warnings to the population. School children are being taught how to recognize the first sign of a tsunami, with the slogan "if you are at the beach and the sea leaves, so should you".
Before leaving Saint Lucia, the Pacific delegation will go visit a volcano monitoring station, and will be joined by a specialist from the regional Seismic Research Unit, from the University of the West Indies.