SPC Geoscience Division

SIDS Conference: Pacific partnerships Work to Progress Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

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4 September 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Apia, Samoa - Small island developing states of the Pacific face a set of difficult and complex challenges in securing safe drinking water and sanitation facilities for their citizens – challenges not easily addressed by single communities, organisations or sectors working in isolation. To make progress in the area of safe water and sanitation, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is convinced that a multi-sector, partnership approach is the key, and SPC is promoting the use of partnerships to tackle the region’s most difficult water and sanitation challenges head on.

Dr Colin Tukuitonga, SPC’s Director-General, feels that effective partnerships are the way forward in harnessing the energy and expertise needed to overcome the challenges of securing safe and sustainable drinking water and sanitation facilities. ‘At SPC we already work closely with our member countries and territories to help bring the various sectors together and demonstrate the benefits of sustainable water and sanitation solutions,’ Dr Tukuitonga said. ‘What we’re now seeing in the region is increasing collaboration between sectors, stakeholder groups, and also between Pacific Island countries and territories.’

Dr Tukuitonga was speaking in Apia at the United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States, or SIDS, which is bringing together partners from across the globe to focus the world’s attention on a group of countries that remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 September 2014 09:42 Read more...
 

SIDS Conference: Building resilience – Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development in the Pacific

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Thursday 4 September 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji – The Pacific will be the first region in the world to fully integrate climate change and disaster risk management in a single regional strategy focused on resilient development.

Regional efforts on integrating climate change and disaster risk management featured at the side event, Building Pacific Resilience – the Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development in the Pacific, held during the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa. The Government of Tonga led the event with support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

Discussions around resilient development for Pacific Island nations highlighted how countries and organisations have advanced or are planning the integration of strategies for climate change and disasters.

In his keynote address, the Prime Minister of Tonga, Lord Tu'ivakanō, said: ‘The Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development in the Pacific highlights the importance of partnerships and this is certainly what this SIDS meeting is all about. A new mechanism to bring together climate change and disaster risk management practitioners at the regional level is being advocated.’

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 09:42 Read more...
 

Building capacity to manage emergency operations in Palau

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Participants from Palau Government departments, Palau Red Cross and the media attended training last week on establishing and managing Emergency Operations Centers.

In 2012, Typhoon Bopha impacted Palau and affected hundreds of people and destroyed 70 homes, displacing 131 people, while in 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the whole northern-most state of Kayangel, destroying 39 homes and severely damaging dwellings from Babeldaob to Koror.

These two events highlighted a need for Palau to increase the number of personnel trained to manage the response to emergencies and to work in the National Emergency Operations Center. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), through support from the European Union project, Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific, is working with Palau to address this need by providing training in Emergency Operations Centers for 17 representatives of government, civil society and the media.

Ms Priscilla Subris, Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Office, opened the week-long training by stressing the importance of all agencies working together and thanking participants for taking the time ‘to learn how to be part of Palau’s response to future emergencies’.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 September 2014 15:23 Read more...
 

SPC refines links with the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS)

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ISPRS

Prof. Christian Heipke during the discussion with GIS&RS users in Suva

The Secretary General of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), Prof. Christian Heipke, met with the SPC Deputy Director, Fekitamoeloa Utoikamanu and SPC’s Geoscience Division Director Prof. Mike Petterson, last Friday to discuss further enhancement of the link between ISPRS and SPC-GSD.

ISPRS bundles national geospatial societies and through this, ISPRS has the largest network of research and method development in the geospatial area.

SPC-GSD has been the regional member for Pacific Island countries for the last 10 years with the rationale of using this network to benefit its member countries.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 December 2015 09:53 Read more...
 

Understanding the Spatial and Temporal Occurrence of Landslides Using Satellite and Airborne Technologies: Papua New Guinea

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Data Release Report by Joanne Robbins

Landslides pose a significant threat to life and infrastructure in Papua New Guinea (PNG), with numerous movements being recorded annually. Such events are typically instigated by the combined effects of different geomorphological control factors, such as slope or geology, and the influence of a triggering event (i.e. an earthquake or heavy rainfall). Rugged topography and high seismicity combine in PNG, to make the region highly susceptible to large-volume, earthquake-induced landslides, while the climate encourages widespread rainfall-induced landslides. Of the two triggering mechanisms, understanding rainfall-induced landslide occurrence offers the best scope for early warning/forecasting system development, as meteorological models and data availability improve.

This paper presents an overview of research conducted to understand regionally-based, rainfall-induced landslide occurrence in PNG. Given the regional focus of this research and the need to develop a cost effective and reproducible methodology, pre-existing or freely available satellite and airborne data have been used. The aim of this research was to develop models capable of identifying rainfall events with the potential to trigger landslides, as well as models that distinguish areas of heightened landslide susceptibility from those with low/no landslide susceptibility. Together, these modelling approaches can be used to generate a broad-scale early warning/forecasting system, which could help to reduce the losses associated with landslides across PNG.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 09:55 Read more...
 

Tonga a world leader in seabed minerals law

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The Kingdom of Tonga this month became the first country in the world to put in place a law that manages seabed mineral activities within its national marine space and under its sponsorship in international waters.

Tonga’s Seabed Minerals Act 2014 was prepared with the assistance of the Deep Sea Minerals Project a partnership between the European Union (EU) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and 15 Pacific Island countries. The Act received Royal Assent from the King of Tonga on 20 August 2014. This pioneering law, championed by Tonga’s Minister for Lands and Natural Resources and his staff, and led by the Kingdom’s Attorney-General’s Office, with SPC support, positions Tonga at the forefront of good governance for this emerging new industry.

Tonga, like Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Solomon Islands, has already received significant commercial interest in the seabed mineral potential within its national seas. Companies are currently conducting exploratory activities to learn more about Tonga’s ‘seafloor massive sulphide’ deposits. These chimney like structures, formed by hydrothermal activity at the seafloor thousands of metres below sea-level, are being feted as a new source for metals in global demand (such as copper, zinc, gold and silver) – and, if mined, would bring a new source of revenue for Tonga.

The industry is however an untested one: deep sea mining has not yet occurred anywhere in the world; its viability and environmental impact are yet to be determined.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 March 2015 13:18 Read more...
 

SIDS 2014 Side Event: Building Pacific Resilience

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 20:34
 

Water and sanitation a critical development issue for the Pacific

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Water and sanitation are among the key challenges facing the Pacific Island region and will be a focus for discussion at the upcoming Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa, 1‒4 September.

According to Mike Petterson, Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Applied Geoscience and Technology Division, all Pacific SIDS have made some progress in water and sanitation but not enough.

‘Many of these efforts are not keeping up with population growth, meaning the region as a whole is actually going backwards compared to the rest of the world,’ said Professor Petterson. ‘SPC is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF to assess progress against the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) targets for water supply and sanitation. For the region as a whole the findings aren’t good.’

UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist, Marc Overmars, said the MDGs aim to halve the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation and safe drinking water by 2015.  ‘The data we’ve collected with WHO suggest that for the Pacific as a whole, progress towards these targets has been poor compared to neighbouring regions and the world,’ he said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 09:37 Read more...
 

GSD News 2nd Quarter: April - June 2014

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Last Updated on Thursday, 19 March 2015 13:21
 


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Newsflash

There have been recent reports in the media that particular shorelines in Vanua Levu have experienced significant erosion from wave action since Tropical Cyclone Tomas in March 2010, threatening infrastructure and ancient burial sites. As a result, villagers have been advised to take into account global warming and to relocate to higher grounds (Fiji Times, Saturday, May 15, 2010)

Cyclones are among the most frequently occurring natural disasters in the tropical Pacific, and they are characterised by high waves and strong winds. At the time of tropical cyclone Tomas ocean surface waves up to eight meters high were reported to inundate villages on Vanua Levu. Such an extreme event can lead to coastal erosion or accretion, depending on the configuration of the particular shoreline. It is however difficult to imagine such large waves, and even more difficult to assess their impact without direct measurements in the location concerned.