Samoa launches climate change adaptation project for communities

Nov 7, 2014

Associate Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Hon Faumuina Liuga Tiatia shake hands with the UNDP Resident Representative, Ms Lizbeth Cullity at the signing ceremony. Photo credit: UNDP Samoa

Today, the Government of Samoa, including Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MNRE) and Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), signed a project agreement aimed at incorporating climate change risks mitigation measures and adaptation opportunities across relevant sectors. The project is the largest national project ever funded by the Least Developed Countries Fund of the Global Environment Facility (GEF); this is considered a strategic departure move for Samoa as it shifts out of its LDC status. 

Samoa is amongst the Small Island Development States (SIDS) that are most vulnerable and exposed to climate change. Sea-level rise will exacerbate coastal erosion, loss of land, and dislocation of the island settlements. Coastal floods are also likely to become more frequent and severe. When cyclone Evan hit Samoa in 2012, as many as 7,500 people were affected, and about 2000 houses were damaged. 

The first objective of the LDCF grant of US $12.3 million will improve national and local planning and coordination for adaptation to climate change. This will strengthen national efforts to effectively integrate climate change risks and disaster risk reduction in national planning and budgeting processes, and in this way reduce the damages from future extreme weather events. About 70% of Samoa’s population and infrastructure are located in low-lying coastal areas, and climate change is affecting all sectors. 

The second objective of the project will be to consider measures by which communities and families can enhance resilience against flooding, heavy rain and extreme weather events such as looking at preventative measures to reduce impacts of flooding in the greater Apia area (Faleata West, Faleata East and Vaimauga West). Communities will be consulted and encouraged to provide inputs in to the implementation phase of the project.

The third objective of the project is to improve information systems relating to climate change adaptation, and ensure these are used in informed decision making by all key stakeholders involved including communities.  

“We cannot grow as a nation unless we ensure that every investment, whether in infrastructure, food security, watershed management, health, even tourism, is informed by up-to-date information on climate change impacts, particularly related to extreme weather events and disasters.” - says MNRE CEO, Mr. Suluimalo Amataga Penaia. 

Mr. Lavea Tupaimatuna Iulai Lavea, CEO of Ministry of Finance, believes that “For every tala invested in climate change adaptation/mitigation today, there will be savings of thousands of tala more tomorrow”.  

Financing from the Least Developed Country Fund will serve to advance Samoa’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process to integrate climate change adaptation into development planning processes, budgets, and strategies. Established under the Cancun Adaptation Framework (CAF), the NAP process enables Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to formulate and implement national adaptation plans (NAPs) as a means of identifying medium- and long-term adaptation needs and developing and implementing strategies and programmes to address those needs. 

“The United Nations Development Programme is particularly satisfied to cooperate with the Government of Samoa in a climate change project that also has such a clear focus on women and youth. This project will support development of small businesses that can thrive in the light of climate change, providing opportunities and employment for the future,” says Lizbeth Cullity, UNDP Resident Representative in Samoa, “Through village surveys, households, women and youth will have a chance to express their views on how this can be done. Their participation in decision-making will be a priority.”

Contact information

MNRE: Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Phone: +685 67200

UNDP: Mr. Mohammad Alamgir, Communications for Results Officer,  + 685 7275109/+685 23670

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