SPC Highlights Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture

19 May 2011: In addresses to two recent climate change meetings in the Pacific region, Inoke Ratukalou, Acting Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Land Resource Division (LRD), has stressed the need to protect SIDS' agriculture sector from the impacts of climate change, and emphasized that climate change should be considered a development issue, not just an environmental one.

One statement was presented to a two-week workshop on Agro-meteorological Applications and Climate Change Impact Assessment in Nadi, Fiji, hosted by the Secretariat of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). In comments on 18 May 2011, Ratukalou underlined that the Pacific region is continuously exposed to a range of climate-induced hazards that have caused estimated total damages and losses of US$756 million between 2001 and 2009. Noting that the economies of many small island developing States (SIDS) are highly dependent on agriculture and that this sector is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, Ratukalou emphasized the need for adaptive agricultural practices in order to protect livelihoods and ensure food security. The Government of Japan and UNDP's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation provided funding for the workshop.

On 19 May 2011, Ratukalou gave closing remarks at the Vanuatu Climate Change Adaptation Strategy workshop in Port Vila, Vanuatu. He noted that the 2008 Pacific Forum meeting in Niue had declared that climate change should no longer be considered an environmental issue but should be considered a development issue. He stressed that the SPC concentrates its efforts on climate change adaptation issues, while SPREP focuses on policy issues. He also noted that SPC's Land Resource Division focuses on land-based resources and is working in partnership with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) in the development of the first phase of the Adaptation to Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region (ACCPIR) project.

Ratukalou said the workshop succeeded in putting in place an institutional infrastructure to guide climate change adaptation efforts and stressed the need to harness traditional knowledge and culture to help people prepare for the effects of climate change. [SPC Press Release on Fiji Event] [SPC Press Release on Vanuatu Event]