On Wednesday, 29th May 2013, the Honorable Prime Minister, the Ministries of Finance, and Natural Resources and Environment together with the United Nations Development Programme in Samoa held a joint event to sign the project “Enhancing the resilience of tourismreliant communities to Climate Change risks”.
The programme is funded through the Global Environment Facility with a total of US$ 1.950.000 and implemented through the Samoa Tourism Authority with its partner stakeholders in close collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment who is the Operational Focal Point for the Global Environment Facility and administered by the United Nations Development Programme MultiCountry Office of Samoa. Furthermore, this project will be implemented with all relevant partner stakeholders as well as Samoa’s bilateral development partners which will be providing co – financing.
The main objective of the project is to increase the resilience of the tourism sector of Samoa through mainstreaming climate change risks into tourismrelated policy processes and adaptation actions in coastal communities and tourism operations.
The communites have critical concerns about the effects of climate change which range from fluctuating food production, impacts of drought, coastal erosion, coastal and river flooding as well as water quality and availability, more vectorborne and waterborne diseases, higher risk of forest fires, damage to lowlying infrastructure, and land loss.
Following community wide consultations which identified the above concerns, the Government of Samoa addressed these by formulating a National Adaptation Programme of Action. The NAPA, as it is known, sets out a coordinated countrywide response to these climate change risks. The Community consultations identified nine priority projects including Tourism implemented under this newly approved programme.
The programme will focus mainly on ontheground implementation of coastal adaptation measures in tourism development areas, addressing climate change impacts on key infrastructure elements and tourism reliant communities in order to enhance their resilience. The design of the actual adaptation interventions will actively engage small tourism operators and communities to ensure their sustainability.
It will target six Tourism Development Areas in Upolu and Savaii, involving at least 20 villages. The activities will demonstrate communitybased adaptation measures that will spill their benefits over to the broader communities in which the tourism operators are located. This will be the first adaptation project to involve the private sector as a key stakeholder.
The impacts of recent events, like cyclone Evan in December 2012, have underlined the vulnerability of the country to climate change and the need to continue to design adaptation strategies to strengthen the livelihoods of our communities. Only by building resilience to climate change will they be able to look ahead and mitigate the impact of natural disasters’ detrimental effects. This programme will contribute to the joint support to the recovery programme, adding the medium and long term approach to avoid significant losses in the future for the small tourism operators.
The Government of Samoa together with ongoing assistance from UNDP continues its efforts to enhance capacity for environmental and climate change management for sustainable development. This Global Environment Facility project will assist the Government of Samoa to build on ongoing initiatives, capacities and partnerships with fellow UN agencies and other development partners to mainstream climate change into Samoa’s national policies, development plans, and to fulfil its obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC) and to meet our MDGs.
The event was hosted by the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Tuilaepa Fatialofa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, as the main representative of the Government of Samoa who signed the project document with the Resident Representative of United Nations Development Programme in Samoa, Ms Nileema Noble, as a starting point for the project. Other representatives of the government were also present to ratify this important step in the path towards the enhancement of a resilient development for Samoa.