Acting Commissioner, Western Division

Acting Director, Fiji Met Service

Participants of the Climate Refresher Training Workshop from ministries, agencies and other institutions of Fiji

Ladies and gentlemen:

Yadra vinaka, namaste and a very good morning to you all:

Weather touches all of us. Rain or shine, quite literally, we wake up to it every morning, so few things are as pervasive in human life as weather and climate. Climate is a powerful factor shaping development, infrastructure and culture of peoples and nations. Planning for climate and effectively observing it are therefore vital roles of governments and institutions.

Climate change has added to the complexity of climate monitoring and the related planning and management process. Today we see more higher intensity, unanticipated extreme weather events on and off season.

Under the RESPAC project, UNDP with funding from the Government of Russian Federation is helping 15 Pacific Island Countries to prepare better for climate and weather events. Through the RESPAC, UNDP is supporting countries such as Fiji to develop better climate early warning capacity, prepare for disasters, and improve national processes so that the communities can recover from an extreme weather event or disaster. RESPAC is also working with the insurance sector to provide low-income families, small businesses and entrepreneurs with an opportunity to improve their economic security and protect their livelihoods.

Climate Early Warning is a combination of systems and processes which enable the countries to predict extreme weather events, and then pass on the information in a timely manner to citizens, particularly the vulnerable, so that losses are minimized both in terms of human lives and material damage.

For Climate Early Warning System to be effective, countries need to invest in systems as well as inter-relationship between stakeholders, so that climate observation data is analyzed and passed on to those who may be affected. In this regard, observation networks are the front line of climate monitoring systems and UNDP, through RESPAC, is building capacity of technicians at Fiji Met to better manage the entire observation network of the country.

Through this workshop, Fiji Met and its partners across other institutions of Fiji will strengthen their relationship in providing climate observations, and ultimately improve national capacity for better climate reporting. This is an excellent example of inter-agency cooperation and of a whole-of-government approach to building resilience.

The 3 main objectives of the workshop are clear process and roles in climatological monitoring; due care of observation instruments, and quality reporting of data. It is clear that without proper observation, Fiji will not have the capacity to develop additional early warning products hence running the risk of higher damages and losses from climate events.

Looking ahead, UNDP through the Russian-funded RESPAC project aims to continue enhancing meaningful sector collaboration. Based on the success of this initial workshop, more targeted exchanges of information will be undertaken to ensure that climate data is used across different sectors to improve disaster preparedness and to secure lives and assets.

I would like to thank Fiji Met for this valuable partnership and wish all participants a productive exchange over the next few days.

Vinaka vakalevu.

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