Pacific Meteorology Ministers Discuss Extreme Weather Resilience

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Regional meeting underway in Tonga

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 20, 2015) – Pacific Ministers for Meteorology are meeting in Nuku’alofa this week to consider the resilience of Pacific communities to extreme weather events.

Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni said today that the Pacifc Islands region can expect an increase in the intensity of extreme weather and climate events "posing critical challenges to our overall safety, security and existence".

He was speaking at the Third Meeting of the Pacific Meteorological Council at the Fa’onelua Centre, which leads up to the first meeting of Pacific Ministers for Meteorology on Friday, 24 July.

Held under a theme, sustainable weather and climate services for a resilient Pacific, the meeting from July 20-23 is aimed to facilitate coordination among council members and partners in order to strengthen community resilience to weather and climate extremes.

Hon. Sovaleni said in the Pacific a majority of hazards are weather and climate related with cyclones accounting for 76 percent of reported disasters from 1950 to 2004, followed by earthquakes, droughts and floods.

"The devastation of Severe Tropical Cyclone Ian in Tonga last year and Tropical Cyclone Pam earlier this year in Vanuatu are still fresh in our minds, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services are fundamental in safeguarding against such devastation.

"Recent climate change predictions by the International Panel on Climate Change indicate that our island region can expect an increase in the intensity of extreme weather and climate events posing critical challenges to our overall safety, security and existence. More than ever we will be relying on the expertise of our meteorological and hydrological services."

He said the establishment of the Pacific Meteorological Council had demonstrated regional coordination of leadership to address the effects of climate change and climate variability and build resilience and adaptation to weather and climate extremes.

"The Pacific Ministers Meeting provides the perfect opportunity to enhance the contribution of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to the sustainable development of Pacific countries by engaging commitment at the highest level of Government for resource mobilization," he said.

Vulnerable states

Elena Manaenkova, the Assistant Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), said Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a priority given their vulnerability to weather and climate extremes.

She said the meeting aimed to facilitate coordination among Council members and other orgnisations, advance weather and climate services to strengthen community resilience and share experiences with the implementation of the Pacific Islands Meteorological Strategy for 2012-21.

The meeting is attended by directors and senior officers from Fiji, Cook Islands, Micronesia, Tahiti, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Vanuatu and the United States National Weather Service Pacific Region office from Hawai, SPREP with other partners.

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