Speech for the Launching of the "Enhancing the resilience of Tourism-reliant Communities to Climate Change Risks"

May 29, 2013

Launching Ceremony 29th May 2013, Apia Samoa by Ms. Nileema Noble, Resident Representative, UNDP MCO Samoa

Honourable Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi

Hon Cabinet Ministers,  Members of Parliament and Government Officials

Talofa and Good Afternoon

UNDP is very privileged to have worked with the Samoa Tourism Authority, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Ministry of Finance to support development of this important project that is expected to increase the resilience of the Tourism Sector, through a US$1.9m programme funded from LDCF.

I would like to acknowledge in particular, the leadership of Mrs. Sonja Hunter in bringing together stakeholders and in providing key inputs into designing of this project.

In signing off on this important document Hon PM, I am reminded of your request to me upon my arrival in Samoa that you wished to see the UN/UNDP accelerate and increase Samoa’s access to the international CC funds.  

I am therefore particularly proud that this project represents another example of UNDP delivering on its commitment to the PM and to Samoa, on the important priority attached by the Government to accessing CC financing.  

In this context I am pleased to inform you that our current portfolio of Environment and CC programmes in Samoa amounts to US$40m, of which $22m are coming on stream in 2013. This represent excellent work and co-operation between UNDP and the different ministries and agencies of the government.  

UNDP support covers a range of sectors and has implemented adaptation projects in 6 out of the 9 priorities of the National Adaptation Action Plan.  Our programmes have operated at 3 levels.

(i) strategic policy level, mainstreaming CC as a development variable across 6 key sectors of the economy – Forestry, Agriculture, Forestry, Tourism etc.
(ii) Institutional and technical capacities have been enhanced through a) the use of geographical Information systems (GIS) to identify vulnerable areas, communicate Early Warning Systems, or use satellite imagery, b) the use of Cost-benefit analyses for the selection of adaptation options, c) the integration of climate information in the definition of adaptation strategies, or d) the development of systems to monitor the resiliency of the country/region to Climate Change
(iii) Adaptation action that increases resilience at the community level by:
a) protecting watersheds from flooding and drought, b) providing climate early warning information; c) increasing their capacity on sustainable natural resources management and reforestation; d) increasing the opportunities for diversified economic activities; e) protecting them from natural disasters and climate change impacts

The Tourism programme will build on these on-going initiative.
The main objective of the Tourism project is to increase the resilience of the tourism sector of Samoa through (i) mainstreaming climate change risks into tourism-related policy processes and (ii) implementing  adaptation actions in coastal communities and tourism operators by implementing components of the Tourism Adaptation Strategy developed in 2011.

The communities in 20 villages and tourism development areas in Upolu and Savaii will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this project.

The direct impact on tourism small operators and broader communities’ livelihoods will include improvement in
•    Infrastructures
•    Rainwater collection, storage and distribution
•    Flash-flood proofing
•    Site water management
•    Protection of coastal beaches and vegetation

The Tourism project will directly benefit up to 50 community-operators, around 100 staff, and approximately 500 households through the extended families, engaging equally with men women and youth. The project will also benefit the broader population in the 20 target villages totalling 4,417 inhabitants.

The implementation of the project will have direct impacts on communities by:
-    Creating a tourism small business support programme to provide professional advisory services
-    Creating new business opportunities through financial mechanisms in the Private Sector Support Facility (PSSF)
-    Creating insurance opportunities to protect the tourism business
-    Protecting community assets through the implementation of adaptation measures
-    Diversifying the tourism industry to benefit from all the unique resources in Samoa and providing additional job opportunities
-    Providing up to date and adapted information on climate for better management of business
-    Diversifying the income sources for households around the tourism operators

However the impact of the project will go beyond the 20 villages.

It will work closely at the operational levels with the on-going US$8m UNDP/Adaptation Fund Project and the US$20m PPCR project, that covers the entire country. The activities of the Tourism projectwill demonstrate community-based adaptation measures that can be replicated in other tourism development areas acaross the country and spill their benefits over to the broader communities in which the tourism operators are located.

Tourism is the mainstay of the Samoa economy, with direct contributions of 20% to the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which stood at SAT$1.55 billion (US$0.69 billion) in 2011. As a core contributor to GDP, much of the future growth and stability of the Samoa economy depends upon tourism continuing to support livelihoods especially at the local village level.  The tourism sector provides direct employment for over 5400 people which represent approximately 10% of the total workforce. Most of this sector workforce supports the operation of over 60 small scale community based accommodation places and resorts. The sector also provides substantive indirect employment and a range of opportunities in the fields of transport, communications, agriculture, fisheries, handicrafts, cultural performance, infrastructure, construction and manufacturing. The sector also provides the catalyst for maintaining critical economic linkages for the more remote and dispersed villages about the islands of Upolu and Savaii.  In these small remote communities, tourism offers most of the new job opportunities especially for young people who are then encouraged to stay in the communities. Village level small-scale tourism is therefore a major force in local economic development, restraining urbanization and retaining the population in rural areas.

I would like to take advantage of this important fora to inform this distinguished gathering of a very important work that has been undertaken by the Ministry of Finance and UNDP that has resulted in the development of a Climate fiscal framework.  Samoa is among only 5 countries world-wide that has undertaken such an exercise. The Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review is an important step in Samoa in the definition of an efficient strategy to access, manage and implement climate funding. 

UNDP is mindful that Climate Change is a cross-sectoral issue that needs to be addressed from many different perspectives. UNDP is supporting Samoa in adopting a development - wide approach to climate change by working in a wide range of sectors: agriculture, health, forestry, coastal protection, climate finance and now tourism. Taking advantage of synergies between existing and new initiatives, preventing overlapping and decreasing transaction costs is essential for the success of the programme. Notwithstanding this effort it would be fair to say that bulk of the portfolio still delivers services in a ‘projectised’ fashion.

The expanding nature of the CC portfolio in Samoa and the development of the CPEIR – the Climate Public Expenditure Review provides a real opportunity for institutionalising a cross-sector and and an economy wide approach and a co-ordination system that allows for real gains through scale, impact, results and real and meaningful benefits on the ground.

Hon PM we count on your support on this important next step forward toward climate proofing and greening of the economy, through a co-ordinated economy wide response.

This signing ceremony formally underlines the commitment of Samoa and UNDP towards the enhancement of resilient development in Samoa.

Thank you.  Soifua.

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