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MSG to establish Climate Change Unit

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MOVES are underway for the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to set up a Climate Change Unit within its Port Vila Secretariat to address the impact of climate change  facing member countries.

This was revealed by MSG’s Director of Trade and Investment, Mere Falemaka at the regional briefing on building resilience to climate change in the Pacific Islands underway in Vanuatu.

Falemaka told PACNEWS MSG Leaders are expected to endorse the setting up of the Climate Change Unit in 2013.

 “The genesis for this unit on climate change within the MSG Secretariat is from the MSG Leaders declaration in March this year, which adopted a number of initiatives on Climate Change and Environment,” Ms Falemaka said.

“As part of that initiative they also agreed to an institutional process which will include the setting up of the unit within the MSG Secretariat.

 “That decision included the establishment of the meeting of MSG Environment and Climate Change Ministers to be supported by the MSG Environmental and Climate Change group technical advisory group which is the official level to support the ministerial meeting and the unit to provide support to the institution.

“The MSG Environmental and Climate Change Ministers will have oversight on the MSG declaration on Environment and Climate Change,” she said.

She added MSG secretariat has started the recruitment of staff to work for the new unit.

 “As we speak the Secretariat has already initiated the recruitment of the staff.

“That staff will be supported by the German Government through the GIZ project initially for two years to be based at the Secretariat.

“The main role of the unit is to coordinate and provide support to members on the implementation of the MSG declaration on Environment and Climate Change.

“The recruitment of the coordinator under the GIZ project will initiate the establishment of the unit,” Falemaka told PACNEWS.

She said MSG countries face many challenges from the impacts of climate change and this stem from the loss of biodiversity within MSG members.

 “There are about nine percent of birds under extinct or under threat, over 15 percent of terrestrial mammals also under threat or under extinction. We have unsustainable harvesting and exploitation of national resources.

“MSG countries have forestry, mining sectors and fisheries sectors, so the harvesting or extraction of these natural resources are sometimes subjected to unsustainable exploitation.”

Ms Falemaka explained there is also a link between climate and diseases. She said this was evident in a study carried out in PNG.

 “In the context of Papua New Guinea, one of the adaptation measures on climate change relates to adaptation for malaria and vector borne diseases.

“The fact that flooding in some low lying areas and sea level rise particularly in estuaries in PNG  created swamps where mosquitoes breed.

“These mosquitoes actually accelerate the spread of diseases,” said Ms Falemaka.