MSG Environment and Climate Change Technical Advisory Committee Meeting

06-07 March2013

Tanoa International Hotet, Nadi, Fiji

Welcome Remarks by Mr. Peni Sikivou, Acting Deputy Director General MSG Secretariat

Mr. Chairman

Member country representatives

Representatives of Partners &Regional Organizations

MSG Secretariat staff

Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish to extend to you all a very warm welcome to this second meeting of the Environment and Climate Change Technical Advisory Committeehere at the Tanoa International Hotel. Let me first express our sincere appreciation to you all for accepting our invitation to this Meeting. Our profound appreciation and gratitude is also extended to our Host, the Government of the Republic of Fiji.

As you will be undoubtedly aware, the ECCTAC was established through a mandate of the Environment and Climate Change Ministers Meeting (ECCMM) in January last year, andendorsed subsequently by the Foreign Ministers Meeting and Leaders at the Special MSG Summit in March 2012.

Climate change is emerging as a vital issue for our Melanesia communities. Our countriesare vulnerable to climate change and we must therefore ensure that it is given prominence in our development policies and strategies. Climate change is a cross sectoral issue as it will impact on the livelihoods of our communities andour biodiversity and ecosystems.

The ECCTAC therefore plays an important role in providing technical advice on issues surrounding climate change through the Environment and Climate Change Ministers and Leaders. At the July Meeting of ECCTAC, Members discussed the Committee’s Terms of Reference which outlines the roles and responsibilities, membership, meeting and reporting structure of the Committee.

A key component of what will be discussed in this meeting is the progress on the formulation of key commitments under the Leaders Declaration on Environment and Climate Change which MSG Leaders signed in March 2012. It is anticipated that this meeting will provide the framework and principles of the key commitments in the Declaration, namely, the MSG Green Growth Framework, the Melanesia Blue Carbon Initiative, the Melanesia Terrestrial Commitment and the MSG Green Climate Fund. A key issue included by this Committee at the July meeting last year, was the issue of Climate Change adaptation and mitigation. This will be also discussed in your meeting today.

I would like to encourage members to take a holistic approach towards this, to ensure coherence in the future planning, formulation and implementation of environment and climate change policies and programmes not only at the MSG level but more importantly at the national and community level. While we hope to set our ownregional framework at this meeting, we all know that implementation will take place at the national levels, and it is necessary that your national issues are reflected in the MSG framework.

Finally, for the MSG Secretariat to remain effective in its role in providing policy advice, I wish to inform the meeting that we have commenced with the recruitment of an Environment and Climate Change Officer Position under the kind assistance of GiZ/SPC. The Officer will responsible for coordinating all environment and climate change issues of the members, under the Environment and Climate Change Unit established by our Environment and Climate Change Ministers and our Leaders.

Let me conclude by congratulating members who are already undertaking a proactive approach in addressing the issues of environment and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in the context of your development processes.

I believe that there is now an opportunity to undertake a regional strategy to guide the progress of MSG towards a Green Growth. There arenumerous initiatives that are being undertaken at various regional and international levels. I believe that this is an opportune time for MSG members to come together to tackle the challenges of environment and climate change and formulate a consistent and co-ordinated approach to addressing them now, relevant to our own domestic situations, and will yield results in the longer term.

The next two days will provide you the opportunity to share your experiences on environment and climate change initiatives. We are also fortunate to have available the technical expertise of our colleagues from our regional partner organizations to provide advice and technical support during the course of your deliberations.

My profound gratitude and appreciation is extended to our regional partner organizations – the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Secretariat of Pacific Environment Programme (SPREP), GIZ, UNESCAP, University of the South Pacific, Cooperation Technical Assistance of the EU/ACP, and other organizations. Moreover, I also would like to acknowledge the financial assistance of IUCN and GIZ in sponsoring the refreshments for this meeting.

I hope that members will be able to contribute candidly on the various Agenda items and formulate a set of outcomes that have the ownership of members, are workable, and will achieve the desired outcomes for our communities.

I wish you well in your meeting and look forward to an outcome of your deliberations, which will be ready for presentation to our Ministers of Environment and Climate Change on Friday this week..

Thank you