THE United States government through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched what it described a "great news story" with its global climate change projects in Fiji and the Pacific.
US ambassador to Fiji Frankie Reed and visiting USAID mission director for the Philippines and the Pacific Islands Gloria Steele led the launch of this commitment at the University of the South Pacific in Suva yesterday.
The commitment — to help communities in the Pacific region adapt to climate change, which Ms Reed said was crucial in sustaining economic development.
USAID's new projects include:
* the $US23.6million (F$42.1m) Coastal Community Adaptation Project (C-CAP), which aims to help build the resiliency of vulnerable coastal communities in the Pacific withstand more intense and frequent weather events and ecosystem degradation in the short-term, and sea-level rise in the long-term;
* the $US7.5million (F$13.3m) Mangrove Rehabilitation for Sustainably-Managed, Healthy Forests (MARSH) project, targeted at restoring degraded mangrove forests that provide benefits to communities — through provisions of training for community-based, sustainable mangrove forest management and mangrove reforestation;
* the $US1.5million (F$2.6m) Vocational Training and Education for Clean Energy (VOTEC) project aimed at strengthening the cadre of qualified engineers and technicians to design, install, operate, maintain and repair solar photovoltaic energy equipment in the Pacific to advance clean energy; and
* the $US690,000 (F$1.2m) USAID-US Peace Corps partnership, which builds the capacity of remote communities for adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction in Fiji, Vanuatu and Micronesia.
"To attain the highest impact, we are closely collaborating with Pacific Island governments, regional organisations, bilateral and multilateral donors, private sector, civil society organisations and the communities to incorporate lessons learned and best practices from around the world," Ms Reed said.
"Rest assured that the US government will continue to collaborate with key stakeholders and partners to address the threat of climate change here in Fiji and the Pacific region," she said.
Ms Steele said: "We will help to build community resilience, improve the sustainability of clean energy investments, and promote sustainable forest management as part of our heightened engagement to address climate change in the Pacific region."
USP vice-chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra said climate change was the central feature of the university's strategic plan.
He said the university was focused on supplying good quality climate services to people in the region.