SPC Geoscience Division

Spotlight on Disaster Response and Risk Reduction in the Pacific

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Media coverage

Suva, Fiji, 26 October 2015

Hundreds of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response partners from across the Pacific are gathering in Suva this week for a joint program of events around emergency management and regional resilience to disasters.

The week starts with the two-day Pacific Regional Disaster Resilience Meeting which brings together disaster management agencies and others to discuss the challenges of improving disaster management across the region with a view to saving lives and reducing disaster losses.

“The Pacific is a challenging environment for disaster risk management. It is very exposed to extreme weather events such as Cyclone Pam which hit Vanuatu hard earlier this year. Parts of the region are now suffering drought and water shortages because of El Niño while others are preparing for the strong likelihood that they will be hit by high winds, storm surges and heavy rainfall in the months ahead," Timothy Wilcox, Head of the Pacific office of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 October 2015 11:36

Vanuatu builds capacity to coordinate emergency shelter

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23 September 2015

Port Vila, Vanuatu – Improving the quality and coordination of emergency shelter was the focus of a five day training course held in Vanuatu earlier this month (7-11 September) for government and civil society members of the Vanuatu Shelter Cluster and Evacuation Centre Working Group along with representatives from counterparts in Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga .

The training was provided by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies with support from the European Union through the SPC implemented Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific project and Australian Red Cross’ Pacific Disaster Management Partnership.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 September 2015 16:19

Resilient urban development planning for Vanuatu

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Vanuatu participants

15 September 2015

Port Vila, Vanuatu – Increasing the climate and disaster resilience of urban development planning is the focus of a three day training being held in Port Vila this week (15-17 September) for representatives of national and municipal government.

As a country that experiences a range of natural disasters it is important that urban development in Vanuatu takes into consideration the risk of hazards such as flooding, earthquake and tsunami in order to reduce the impact of future disasters and create safer, more resilient towns and cities.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 September 2015 20:06

SPC supports maritime boundary progress in the North Pacific

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3 September 2015, Pohnpei

This month the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is responding to requests from the Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to assist these countries to formalise their maritime boundaries and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).

Under international law, a country has the right and responsibility to delineate and map its own maritime boundaries.

“In the Pacific, due to the close proximity of islands, Exclusive Economic Zones often overlap,” explained SPC’s Maritime Boundaries Technical Officer, Emily Artack.

“Thus, there’s a need for countries to negotiate maritime boundary agreements. Once an agreement or treaty is formalised and signed by the leaders, then the countries know exactly the limits of their own extended maritime areas,” Ms Artack said.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 September 2015 20:07

Needs of outer islands top climate change lessons learned at Pacific meeting

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Lessons learn

9 September 2015, Colonia

The special needs of outer island communities must be considered in the planning and design of climate change adaptation projects.

That was a clear message stressed by participants at the Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Islands States (GCCA: PSIS) project’s ‘lessons learnt’ meeting that recently concluded in Yap State in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with the European Union (EU) hosted this important reflective consultation involving 70 participants from Pacific Island states and other development partners.

Besides logistical challenges such as limited transportation, climate change adaptation projects must be sensitive to the particular customs and ways of life in outer islands, which include traditional governance structures and unique local languages.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 September 2015 09:54

Resilient urban development planning for Fiji

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Participants review

23 September 2015

Nadi, Fiji Increasing the climate and disaster resilience of urban development planning is the focus of a three day training being held in Nadi this week (21-23 September) for representatives of national government and Nadi Town Council.

The training is facilitated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. Fiji’s high exposure to tropical cyclones and flooding means that urban planners must ensure future development is resilient to climate and disaster risks in order to reduce or prevent the impact of future natural disasters.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 10:18

Papua New Guinea completes mapping of its maritime boundaries

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8 September 2015

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Hon Peter O’Neill, and the President of Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), H.E. Peter M. Christian, have formalised an update to the Maritime Boundary Agreement between the two Pacific nations.

Given the importance of the ocean to economic development in the Pacific region, this agreement concludes an essential step in securing national jurisdiction over marine resources.

This significant milestone was achieved with technical training, support and advice from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) spanning more than a decade.

“I’m proud of the assistance that SPC has provided to our member countries to help them conclude this latest maritime boundaries agreement,” the Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, said in congratulating the two Pacific states at a signing ceremony in Port Moresby yesterday.

“Of the 49 overlapping Exclusive Economic Zones in the Pacific region, 36 of these boundaries have now been signed in the form of treaties. This means that nearly 75% of the maritime boundaries between neighbouring countries in the Pacific have now been concluded.”

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 September 2015 20:07

Pacific countries discuss financial management options for deep sea minerals development

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26 August 2015, Nadi

Deep sea mining is an emerging industry in the Pacific region and has the potential to become a major new revenue stream for Pacific Island countries.

Effective management of this revenue will be critical to ensure that long term benefits are realised.

Through the European Union Deep Sea Minerals Project, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is partnering with the International Monetary Fund and the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre to hold a workshop in Nadi this week (24-27 August) that focuses on the management of revenue emanating from deep sea minerals development.

Representatives from 14 Pacific Island countries, civil society groups, the private sector, finance officials and experts have been invited to participate.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 September 2015 20:07

SPC and International Seabed Authority seal new agreement

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The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) which is currently holding its 21st annual session in Jamaica.

The MOU expresses the mutual interests of SPC and ISA in developing regional and national frameworks that support the interests of both organisation’s Pacific member states, and efforts to regulate and manage deep sea mineral activities in ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction; conducting marine scientific research and analysis results; and participating in capacity-building initiatives and sharing seabed resources information.

Chief Geoscientist at SPC, Dr Kifle Kahsai, said the MOU will strengthen partnership of the two organisations.

“The decision of the Council to approve the proposed MOU between the Authority and the Pacific Community is a vibrant testimony of the remarkable relationship established between the two organizations over the years,” Dr Kahsai said.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 July 2015 12:15

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Tuesday, 24 September 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji – Regional experts in land and marine survey and management commended the work of the AusAID-funded Pacific Sea Level Monitoring (PSLM) Project at the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) Symposium in Suva last week.

Among them was Professor John Hannah of the University of Otago, who chairs the FIG Climate Change Task Force. Addressing the conference, Professor Hannah said, ‘Monitoring is crucial. We need reference systems and data sets that allow us to monitor change accurately.’

‘I congratulate our colleagues in the Pacific Sea Level Monitoring Project ─ thanks to that initiative, many small islands have a reliable continuous data set.  We need to see more of this in the region.’

The project has been collecting data from 14 sites across the Pacific since 1991. Over-water monitoring stations in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Pohnpei, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, and Nauru provide a continuous stream of high-quality data on sea level, tides, water and air temperature, barometric pressure, and windspeed and direction. In addition, land-based global navigation satellite system (GNSS) stations in each country measure seismic movements and provide geodetic benchmarks for the sea-level stations.

All of this data is necessary for scientists to calculate sea-level change relative to land elevation. The data has many other uses, however. It is publically accessible and is frequently referenced for coastal development projects, urban planning, tidal predictions, formulation of maritime boundaries, wave modelling and for navigational purposes.