Dr Jimmie Rodgers, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
NOUMEA, 17 September 2012 - The 4th Session of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management opened today with a strong call for Pacific Island Countries and Territories, and donors to address the challenges of climate change in a smarter way.
Dr. Jimmie Rodgers, Secretary General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), said: "There are many of you here who represent the core leadership group for disaster risk management in our region and you have done a sterling job. For the future however I think you need to embrace more meaningfully the contribution of the various sectors and interest groups and work with them to bring about change and improvements.
"The collaboration with the Water and Sanitation sector at this year's meeting is a shining example but I think more can be done. We need to adopt a 'many partners-one team' approach and focus on improved coordination to address important cross-cutting challenges such as disaster reduction, climate change, food and water security. We must embrace strong engagement with civil society and the private sector."
The theme for this year's Pacific Platform is "Disaster Risk Management, Water Security and Climate Change -- Integrating our efforts for a more resilient Pacific." One anticipated outcome is a new regional action plan for water and sanitation in the Pacific. A road map to integrated disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation beyond 2015 is also foreseen.
In a video greeting to delegates its head, Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said the meeting is a "strong sign that the region is alive to the challenges and working hard to come up with solutions which will preserve your communities and build their ability to adapt in smart, innovative ways.
"There is no other region in the world that has more reason to embrace the principles of disaster risk reduction than the Pacific. Few other parts of the world understand as well as you do what it takes to build resilience in response to growing environmental threats," Ms Wahlström said. "This is particularly clear in your leadership on the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation."
In welcoming delegates to Noumea, New Caledonia's government representative, Jean-Claude Briault said, "This is the first time that this important meeting is taking place in a French territory. New Caledonia is proud to host the Pacific Platform for DRM and Regional Water & Sanitation Consultations and we are happy to participate in it together with the other French territories invited, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna.
"In the face of challenges shared by Pacific Island Countries and Territories, the sharing of our experiences will help us all progress in this field and a regional strategy will make us more visible and coherent."
As part of a South-South partnership Pacific island delegates will be joined this year by colleagues from the Caribbean in order to discuss the similarities and challenges faced by small island states.
The Pacific Platform which runs throughout the week will also look at strengthening end-to-end early warning systems for all hazards, building capacity at the national level, integrating disaster risk reduction/ climate change adaptation within the educational system and improving collaboration and coordination at both the regional and international level.
The Pacific Platform is run by SPC in partnership with the UNISDR. It is supported by partner organisations like, The Asia Foundation, United States Agency for International Development, the University of the South Pacific, United Nations Development Programme Pacific Centre, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Bank Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, AusAID, the European Union and the French Pacific Fund.