Palau Launches Climate Change Policy, Action Plan Process

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10 sector-based working groups meet to begin policy development

By Peter Erick Magbanua

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Nov. 28, 2014) – Over 50 individuals from a broad range of sectors and areas of society attended the launch of the development of Palau’s Climate Change Policy and Action Plan (CCP&AP) through the establishment of ten sector-based working groups that was held Wednesday at the Ming’s Court of the Palasia Hotel.

At the inception meeting, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. gave the keynote address and asked that all stakeholders make time to participate in this important process, particularly the upcoming risk and capacity assessments that will be scheduled with each working group over the next three months.

Palau’s Climate Change Policy and Action Plan is anticipated to be completed by the end of June 2015. Palau’s Climate Change Policy and Action Plan will address climate change adaptation, disaster risk management, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions including protection of carbon sinks (both forests and oceans). It involves consultations with a wide range of stakeholders from national and state governments, the private sector, and civil society.

"Climate Change is a real life threat to us and we, the Small Island Developing States are on the front line. We must take action now to protect ourselves from the impacts of climate change," Remengesau said.

Work on development of Palau’s Climate Change Policy and Action Plan has been ongoing since 2013 with support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) through funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Government (GIZ). This work included the preparation of a community engagement strategy and a climate change gaps and needs analysis for Palau in 2013. This final part of the process to develop Palau’s climate change policy and action plan will involve extensive consultations with sector stakeholders to build a coordinated national policy framework which will include prioritized actions that are to be taken to build the resilience of Palau to climate change over the next five years.

The 10 key sector working groups formalized at the inception meeting are: Biodiversity, Conservation and Natural Resources (Water, Soil, Gas, etc.); Agriculture and Fisheries (food security); Utilities (Telecommunications, energy, water, solid waste and sewage); Critical Infrastructure (roads, ports, airports, schools, etc.); Tourism, Finance (including insurance and banking); Commerce and Economic Development; Health; Society and Culture; Education; and Good Governance.

The sector working groups will participate in risk and capacity assessments that will be conducted over the next three months by a team of local consultants (Sustainable Decisions and Partners, led by Tiare Holm) hired by SPC and Palau to complete the Action Plan for implementing the Climate Change Policy.

The process will also include developing longer term vision statements for each sector and a national workshop will be held in March 2015 to further refine and gain consensus on priority policy actions/directives required to address national risks, capacity building needs and work towards achieving disaster resilient, low carbon development for Palau.

"In order to access funding we need first to know and articulate what our priorities are, and this policy framework development process is an opportunity to get this information direct from all sectors. There is currently in excess of 40 billion dollars for climate finance, which will rise to 100 billion a year by 2020 based on developed countries commitments under the Convention, so there is funding available," National Environment Planner and National Climate Change Coordinator Charlene Mersai added.

The Inception Meeting was coordinated by the Office of Environmental Response and Coordination (OERC) with support from the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), the Palau Energy Office, and the Weather Office on behalf of the Ad Hoc Committee on Climate Change (AHCCC) of the National Environmental Protection Council (NEPC).

Support for this work is being provided through the European Union-funded Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States (GCCA: PSIS) and the Building Safety and Resilience in Pacific Islands Countries projects, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) implemented Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Islands Region program and USAID, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program and other regional partners.

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