A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Posted 1:58 PM by Tevita
Leaders sound the alarm on island peoples' economies
From: The Financial Express
The effects of global warming could devastate local economies and force the migration of tens of thousands of people, warn the leaders of small island nations as they fight to put the issue in the global spotlight. "We are facing the spectre of environmental refugees, particularly in the Pacific, where it is likely that residents in the low-lying areas would be forced to migrate," Angus Friday, United Nations ambassador for the Caribbean island nation of Grenada, said in a recent press conference.
The fear of massive displacement of human population is real. Flooding resulting from rising sea levels has already harmed agricultural lands and other natural resources vital to small islands' economies. In 2004 when Hurricane Ivan hit Grenada, for example, it wiped out 90 percent of the island's housing stock and completely devastated its nutmeg crops, the country's primary export, Friday said. While the country was still trying to recover, it was thrashed by another hurricane within a year that swept away more homes and crops, leaving the islanders with nothing but poverty and helplessness.
The experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predict that tiny island nations will be the first to feel the full brunt of global warming. However, they account for only 0.0012 percent of the world's so-called greenhouse gas emissions, the main contributor to climate change. Research shows that in addition to destroying farming, climate change also poses serious threats to the survival of many marine species, which play a vital role in the economic well-being of those living on small islands. "Bear in mind that island states derive a lot of economic productivity from the seas," Friday, speaking on behalf of the bureau of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), told IPS. "In fact, many of us have more resources in the sea."
The 43-member alliance, which includes countries from the Caribbean, Oceania, Africa and the Indian Ocean, was formed during the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil. In the Caribbean, the incubator of marine diversity lies in its coral reefs, which are rapidly disappearing due to bleaching caused by global warming, said Friday, explaining that it has not only affected fishing, but also many other genetic resources used for medical purposes.
A UN study on climate change adaptation in the Caribbean, released in 2003, calculated that the economic losses for 11 islands in the region from more hurricanes would be nearly a billion dollars in tourism and other productive sources. Wary of the lack of resources required to deal with the dangers of climate change, the AOSIS is stepping up efforts to draw global attention to the declining economic and environmental situations in small island countries. Earlier this month, the alliance created a new bureau to emphasise practical implementation of existing UN treaties, including the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and resolutions that addressed the economic and environmental vulnerability of the island nations.
In the past 15 years, according to AOSIS, the world community has made several commitments to providing assistance in sustainable development to small island nations, but so far it has failed to deliver any meaningful results. The alliance leaders maintain that their fast-deteriorating economic and environmental conditions demand heavy reliance on renewable energy, and for that purpose they need to acquire energy-efficiency technologies from the industrialised countries.
The industrialised countries, where clean energy sources are increasingly being used, are nevertheless the most responsible for emissions of the gases that cause the greenhouse effect, which in turn causes the melting of polar ice and rising sea levels, and more intense weather phenomena like ferocious hurricanes.
"Renewable energy for us is the only way to go," says Collin Beck, the permanent representative of Solomon Islands to the UN, adding that he hopes it will not only energise the population, but also lead to industrialisation and development. According to Beck, whose country is still grappling with the impacts of the Apr. 2 tsunami that killed 52 people, many small islands currently have no option but to spend huge portions of their national budgets on fossil fuels.
The AOSIS has renewed efforts to focus international attention on the need for further negotiations to ensure the protection of small islands' environment and biodiversity. "We are calling for a new partnership amongst the members of the UN General Assembly to focus on practical implementations," says Friday, hoping that enhanced international cooperation will bring positive results for the economy and environment alike.
In addition to assistance in clean energy technology, the islanders are seeking help in disaster management, legislation, sea defence infrastructure, indigenous development, and communications. IPS
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