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UN-Habitat's Cities and Climate Change Initiative concluded a Pacific Partners Workshop in Suva, Fiji from 21-23 November.

21-23 November 2012

The joint effort of UN-Habitat and UNEP climate programmes brought together five Pacific Island Countries with representatives from national offices of environment, climate change and planning, city officers, NGOs and academia. The growing recognition for a rapidly urbanising Pacific and its dynamic towns and cities and the need to better and collectively respond to development challenges complicated by climate change and weak environmental practices was discussed with recommendations incorporated into draft city climate vulnerability and adaptation assessments. The entry point for discussion was that for the Pacific ecosystems-based adaptation approaches and their additional benefits beyond solely reducing the identified climate change threats was critical.

The UNEP/SPREP supported Cost Benefit Analysis of EbA options for Lami Town was shared and highlighted the analysis findings that showed that ecosystem maintenance yields the highest benefit per dollar spent on implementation compared to engineering actions.

Participants learned from each other by sharing good and bad practices and lessons learned from both demonstrating that whilst challenges were many, the incentive to identify solutions was high. Progressing to formulating local climate action plans for sustainable, greener and healthier cities, consensus was reached on the prioritisation of adaptation options and consideration for applying ecosystems-based solutions – investing in the future by maintaining secondary ecosystem services, seeking dynamic, environmental sound and sustainable solutions for Pacific towns and cities. A key point was maintaining communication and networks within the Pacific Community of Practice to continue learning from each other.

Opportunities for going to scale through active collaboration and partnerships to implement recommended actions was highlighted as was the need to continue to advocate for greater political support and commitment to mainstream climate change into existing council plans and processes. Also, national policies needed strengthening in support of local government climate change action in towns and cities of the Pacific. Participants returned to home countries with clear actions on finalising their respective cities' vulnerability and adaptation assessments that will include environmental and ecosystems-based adaptation considerations and local actions.

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