Fiji to host second Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pacific island meteorologists and disaster management experts are gathering on the cusp of the Tropical Cyclone season for the Pacific to discuss the seasonal climate forecast ahead and the best way to prepare for any adverse weather. Known as the Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum 2 (PICOF-2), this two-day event will discuss opportunities for integrating climate information into disaster risk reduction and disaster management. 

The Tropical Cyclone Season ahead for the Southern Pacific countries, as well as the likelihood of an El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event and their impacts will also be covered at the PICOF2.

“This is a crucial meeting for us in the Pacific island region, we have seen the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclones; and the influence of ENSO which can bring about droughts, flooding, heat waves, coral bleaching and crop loss – are all very real impacts that we know all too well across our region,” said Dr Netatua Pelesikoti, Director of the Climate Change Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“Through this meeting, we hope that our experts in these two key sectors have a clearer idea of what will be coming in terms of our climate over the next few months, and the best way that we can coordinate and prepare for these to minimise their impacts.”

“Weather and climate services are vital to building disaster resilience in small island developing states,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“Accurate seasonal predictions of an above-average tropical cyclone season in 2015 – 2016 were vital to preparedness measures.  This certainly helped save many lives during the destructive Category 5 Cyclone Winston which hit Fiji in 20016.”

“Seasonal forecasts also underpin management of slow onset disasters like drought and high-impact events like heatwaves,” he said.

El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the main driver of climate variability in the Pacific and will likely continue to influence the weather and climate of the Pacific well into the future.  The PICOF will help participants improve understanding of how seasonal climate outlooks are produced, how they can be made regionally and nationally relevant, and how they can be tailored to the needs of users from the Disaster Risk Reduction community.

This is the second such event, the first was held in 2015 with the focus on climate seasonal outlooks and their link to the water sector.  Thanks to scientific advances, seasonal outlooks are more accurate and accessible in the past.  They can be downscaled to provide localised climate information for users such as disaster managers, the water sector, farmers and the health and energy.

“Resilience to disasters is a critical issue for the Pacific. The recently endorsed Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific provides a conducive environment for action. Building resilience will take concerted effort and coordination from governments, civil society, private sector and development partners. UNDP looks forward to working with the stakeholders in the region on Climate Early Warning Systems and Early Recovery as part of the upcoming RESPAC project.” says Kevin Petrini, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resilience and Sustainable Development Team Leader.

This year during PICOF-2, the launch of the RESPAC will be a featured highlight.  This is a three year project, funded by the Government of the Russian Federation and implemented by UNDP. The project will provide both technical and financial assistance to 14 Pacific island countries in the areas of climate early warning systems, disaster preparedness and recover, and disaster risk financing.

The PICOF-2 will end with a special statement on Impacts and lessons learned from the 2015/2016 for climate, disaster risk management and outlook and preparations for a possible 2016 – 2017 La Nina.  It will then be followed by a workshop to develop the Pacific Regional Implementation Roadmap for Climate Services from 19-21 October 2016.

The Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum is held in Nadi, Fiji 17 - 18 October, 2016.  It brings together national regional and international experts from the Meteorological Services Sector and the Disaster Risk Reduction, to provide a platform to consolidate seasonal forecasts from multiple sources to issue a consensus climate outlook for the Pacific region.  This will include the presentation and discussion of the Tropical Cyclone outlook for the upcoming Season.

Partners supporting the PICOF2 are Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, World Meteorological Organisation, Environment and Climate Change Canada, United Nations Development Programme, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific, Government of Fiji – Fiji Meteorological Service, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Meteorological Council, University of the South Pacific and the Government of the Russian Federation.

The PICOF-2 is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Federal Department of the Environment (Ce projet a été réalisé avec l'appui financier du gouvernement du Canada agissant par l'entremise du ministère fédéral de l'Environnement), financial contribution by the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Australia.


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