Bakhodir Burkhanov: Climate Early Warning Systems in the PICs Project launch

Sep 1, 2017

(Photo: UNDP/Setaita Tavanabola)

High Commissioner of the Republic of India, H.E. Mr. Vishva Sapkal;

Representatives of the High Commissions of the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Kiribati and Solomon Islands;

Director of the Cook Islands Meteorological Service, Mr. Arona Ngari;

Director of Tonga National Emergency Management Office, Mr. Leveni Aho;

Fiji-based UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP RR, Ms. Osnat Lubrani;

Invited guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Ni sa bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all!

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the launch of the project “Climate Early Warning Systems in Pacific Island Countries”, funded through the newly established India-UN Development Partnership Fund. The Fund was launched in New York on 8 June 2017 during the UN Ocean’s Conference in the presence of Honorable Shri M. J. Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India. The Fund, which will be managed by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in New York, will support sustainable development projects across the developing world.

In the words of Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, “UNDP believes that the India-UN Development Partnership Fund plays an important role in funding south-south cooperation for effective development, and thereby contributes to meeting both national development goals and the commitments of Agenda 2030”. Indeed, delivering the Sustainable Development Goals would require stronger south-south cooperation, and this new partnership sets a great example of such solidarity among nations.

The India-UNDP Fund targets country-level, nationally-owned projects that are catalytic for achieving the SDGs in areas such as building resilience; reducing poverty and hunger; improving health and education; and increasing access to clean water, energy and livelihoods. The Fund will mainly support projects in least developed countries and small island developing states.

I am very pleased to note that the project we are launching today is the first to receive support from the India-UN Development Partnership Fund.

The project entitled Climate Early Warning Systems in Pacific Island Countries aims at supporting existing and new initiatives to enhance Pacific Island Countries’ adaptive capacities for disaster preparedness and recovery, particularly focusing on national met and hydrology services. It will be implemented by UNDP in the Cook Islands; Federated States of Micronesia; Kiribati; Nauru; Republic of the Marshall Islands; Solomon Islands; and Tonga.

The project will contribute to making the Pacific Countries more resilient to the impacts of climate change and disasters, build on UNDP’s ongoing work in the seven countries, and strengthen the South-South Cooperation among the countries and between India and the Pacific. The expected project results will contribute directly towards achieving SDG 13 on climate action and towards reducing the risk of disasters and extreme weather events.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

Let me share with you some salient features of the project. 

First, this is, at its heart, a South-South Cooperation project, which emphasizes mutual responsibility and is based on the principle of solidarity between countries of the South. It recognizes that the Government of India and the Pacific Island Countries have valuable resources and experiences to share in the areas of climate and hydrology early warning systems. The project will provide learning opportunities for the meteorology and hydrology technicians from the Pacific at India’s WMO-accredited training institutions. Participants will learn from Indian experiences and from each other, and share success stories and lessons from the Pacific Island Countries. It is a two-way street for beneficial learning and exchange.

Second, in addition to climate early warning systems of national met services, the project will also focus on hydrology services, including atoll freshwater lens management, flood warnings and alerts. This is a paradigm shift that makes for a more comprehensive management of the conditions faced by the Pacific Island Countries. The importance of this approach to building resilience was emphasized during the Fourth Pacific Meteorological Council Meeting held in Honiara, Solomon Islands, in August 2017, and subsequently reiterated by the Second Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology. 

Third, in keeping with the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the project will conduct a gender analysis at the commencement of its activities to assess the extent to which the planned work incorporates gender-related considerations. The findings will inform future project activities.

Last but not least, I would like to mention an aspect of the project that is so critical to island nations, the groundwater management. Groundwater remains the most reliable source of freshwater available to many atoll nations in the Pacific. It is pumped from shallow wells, or “galleries”, which are horizontal wells constructed just below the water table, designed to skim the freshwater from the water lens. The project will focus on installation and use of in-line salinity meters to minimize potential salinization and help ensure that freshwater supply is not depleted. I am pleased to acknowledge the engagement of the Pacific Community (SPC) as a responsible party for this critical aspect of the project.

Colleagues and friends:

This project is all about partnerships and working together at many levels. Many of you have made today’s launch possible. 

I would like to start by acknowledging the Government of India’s generous contribution to the project and its long-standing partnership with the Pacific Island Countries. Excellency, Ambassador Vishva Sapkal, thank you very much for your support to this partnership and that of your Government.

I would like to acknowledge the support to the project formulation received from the Met and Hydrology Services in the Pacific Island Countries. We have representatives and dignitaries present today from our partner countries; thank you for joining us today to witness this launch.

I would also like to acknowledge the valuable support received from the UN Office of South-South Cooperation during project design. They saw a good initiative and guided us through in an efficient manner. Recognition is also due to the team at the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji for putting together the project document within a record time, making it possible for the project to access the India-UN Partnership Fund and become the first project to receive the Fund’s support.

I am privileged to be part of this auspicious occasion and to hereby launch the first project supported by the India-UN Development Partnership Fund. This project is a very valuable addition to UNDP’s ongoing support to the Pacific Island Countries to strengthen their resilience and to risk-proof their development efforts.

At UNDP, we look forward to working closely with all partners in helping this project deliver its intended development benefits to partner institutions and island communities on the ground.

Thank you and Vinaka vakalevu!

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