[Canberra – May 31] A group of Pacific Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff today concluded a week long study exchange to Australia during which they met with their Australian counterparts as well as researchers and held discussions on strengthening the role of Pacific Parliaments in tackling climate change.
The exchange visit was facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre as part of a project to support Pacific Parliaments to effectively address climate change. The Parliaments of Tonga, Marshall Islands and Kiribati have been part of this project. Samoa was also invited to participate in the exchange visit, given the link to Samoa parliamentary strengthening project that is being implemented with support of UNDP.
The group is composed of eight Members of Parliament (MPs) from Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa and Tonga and two parliamentary staff. The group visited and met with representatives of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Carbon, Water and Food as well as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The group also met with and held discussions with the members of the Australian Parliament. The Australian Parliament has supported the study exchange through its Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships programme.
“Climate change and climate vulnerability have received greater recognition by the Government of Samoa. Adaptation efforts are being streamlined in our sector plans and policies. The role of Parliamentarians in the process is essential to ensure proper legislation is in place. The Parliamentarians from Samoa acknowledge the support and assistance of UNDP, AusAID and other development partners in tackling climate change in our country”, said Samoan MP Hon. Tusa Misi Tupuoala who is part of the study exchange.
Tongan MP Hon Semisi K Lafu Sika found the study tour very beneficial and said it broadened his knowledge on the science of climate change.
“This UNDP initiative brought us together to learn from the Parliament of Australia, a more experienced and leading Parliament body in the Pacific on its response to climate change issues and also on carbon taxing. The study exchange will help catalyze our Committee’s activities on climate change with climate change briefings for MPs and soon to be held public meetings on climate change. Through this UNDP organised event, I have learnt more on how Parliaments are a key body in ensuring a coordinated approach to tackling climate change issues, especially with regards to the urgent adaptation that is needed in Pacific countries”, he said.
The group of Pacific Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff concluded their visit today. Senator Jiba B Kabua, Chairman of the Resource and Development Committee, and Senator Mattlan Zackhras, Member of the Committee and MP from opposition party) as well as Deputy Clerk Divine Waiti from the Marshall Islands were part of the group. Tonga was represented by the Speaker of the House Hon. Lord Fatafehi K L Fakafanua, the Hon. Semisi K Lafu Sika, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Climate Change and the Environment, and Ms. I Kalolaine Tongamatana Makasini, the Clerk from the Standing Committee on Climate Change and the Environment. The two MPs from Kiribati included Government MP Rimeta Beniamina, and Opposition MP Martin Moreti, as well as Mrs Rarawa Amberoti (Committee Secretary). Tusa Misi Tupuoala, Member of Parliament from Samoa and Chair of the Samoa Parliamentary Committee on Works, Transport and Environment was also part of the group.