Samoan Prime Minister to open Pacific-wide climate change conference in Wellington

Samoan Prime Minister and climate change action advocate, The Honourable Tuila’epa Dr Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, is among the high-profile experts presenting at the Pacific Climate Change Conference next week at Te Papa National Museum.

Prime Minister of Samoa
The Hon. Tuila'epa Dr Sa'ilele Malielegaoi is the opening keynote speaker at the Pacific Climate Change Conference 2018.

The three-day event, co-hosted by Victoria University of Wellington and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), has more than 160 invited speakers from backgrounds including science, government, business, indigenous rights, law, activism, media and the arts.

Among the line-up of speakers are renewable energy expert Professor Daniel Nocera from Harvard University, Professor D. Kapua’ala Sproat from the Native Hawaiian Law Center, environmental scientist Dr Patila Malua-Amosa from the National University of Samoa, climate scientist Professor Michael Mann from Pennsylvania State University, indigenous bio-cultural heritage expert Aroha Mead and graduate lawyer Sarah Thomson, who filed a legal case against the New Zealand government for its emission targets.

It is the second time Victoria University has hosted the Pacific Climate Change Conference.

Climate change scientist and conference co-organiser Professor James Renwick says Victoria’s inaugural conference in 2016 highlighted the deep and long-lasting effects climate change was having on Pacific communities.

“In 2016, we heard from people whose daily lives are impacted by climate change—whether it’s more frequent extreme storms demolishing sea walls and destroying food crops, or warmer seas affecting fisheries and damaging corals. We heard the President of Kiribati express very real concerns that his people may no longer have land to stand on if sea levels continue to rise.

“But we also heard from people who are dedicating their work to better understanding the science, legal, political, economic and human aspects.

“This second conference is a chance to get the very latest information, exchange knowledge and ideas, and reignite connections that can bring positive change.”

Victoria’s Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban says the conference is a vital chance for the voices of the Pacific to be heard.

“We have representatives from at least 11 Pacific island nations attending this conference so it’s an invaluable opportunity to share expertise and experience, and come together to find solutions.

“At the last conference, we asked representatives from Pacific nations, including New Zealand, to find out how their governments are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, and report back. We look forward to hearing their progress.”

View the full conference programme online.