By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Paris :: Pacific begins amplifying its voice in Paris. Five days before the global climate change negotiations begins in the French capital, the Pacific has started the process of ‘amplifying its voices’ at this important gathering of more than 190 nations.
The government of New Caledonia organised a side event in downtown Paris Wednesday on mobilising knowledge for better governance of climate change impacts, which featured high level speakers from the region including Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Pato, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Steven Ciobo, France’s deputy special representative for COP21, Philippe Lacoste and New Caledonia’s president, Philippe Germain.
Minister Pato representing Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands Forum admits the gap between traditional knowledge and governance in the Pacific must be remedied.
Citing an example in the Pacific, he said stories that emerged after Tropical Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu and several countries showed that traditional resilience strategies helped many survive the storm and its aftermath.
“Traditional community cyclone shelters, ‘nimaleten’ has a roof that slopes down to the ground making it difficult for the wind to gain hold.
In Papua New Guinea, traditional knowledge of weather patterns and climate signs have helped many people prepare for times of drought and hardship, said Minister Pato.
The PNG senior minister said the challenge for the Pacific is how the region can integrate this innate knowledge into national and regional policy work.
“The development of a draft strategy for resilient development in the Pacific is an example of how at the regional level we can start to narrow the gap between technical and socially grown, or traditional solutions to the challenges of climate change, leading to a more informed and strengthened governance of regional responses that support the policies and priorities of members.
“We are not discarding our past but advancing forward a modern Pacific that can continue traditional techniques with modern approaches, said Minister Pato.
Papua New Guinea as chair of the Pacific Islands Forum will ensure this innovative merging of the past and present will be advanced in the Framework for Regionalism endorsed by Forum Leaders in September this year.
New Caledonia’s Member of the French National Assembly, Philippe Gomes made a political intervention – outlining France’s plan to support New Caledonia and other Pacific Island Small Island Developing States (PSIDS).
He said France was ready to support the Pacific ‘amplify’ its position here at COP21 in Paris.
“We must help find a consensus here in Paris and support the voices of countries greatly impacted by climate change. France can push Pacific voices,” said Gomes.
That commitment, he said, is reflected in President Francois Hollande’s determination to convene the 4th France-Oceania Summit of Leaders this week in Paris.
Gomes said France is keen to push three major issues at the Leader’s Summit – the eligibility of French ‘collectivities’ to access and benefit from the Green Climate Fund, a significant increase of France’s commitment to the Pacific Fund and re-integrating its French Pacific Overseas Territories into regional institutions and bodies.
The France-Oceania Leader’s Summit will be held at the Presidential Palace from 26-27 November – #4PacIslands