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Samoa vllage leaders exchange traditional knowledge to combat climate change

Village leaders at low tide among mangroves
Source: United Nations Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme

Apia, SAMOA — Leaders of the villages of Faleaseela, Lefaga and Siufaga, Falelatai came together today to share their experiences and knowledge on ecosystem-based solutions to combat climate change impacts faced by low-lying coastal communities like theirs, on the south west coast of Upolu.

Faleaseela hosted a delegation from Siufaga to exchange knowledge and best practices about the adaptive ability and capacity of coastal natural resources, such as mangrove and marine protected areas, to tackle changes in climate at village level.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to host the Siufaga, Falelatai chiefs and their development committee so that we can share our best practices and knowledge learnt from our mangrove and marine conservation projects,” said Taloolevavau Ulusele, mayor of Faleaseela village.

Faleaseela has completed its mangrove and marine conservation projects while Siufaga is currently undertaking the same project in their village. Both sites are similar in nature, and both are funded by the United Nations Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme.

“This a golden opportunity for our team to visit and see for ourselves the value and hard work that goes into similar initiatives so that we can take back practical lessons that fit our context while we are implementing our mangrove and marine conservation project,” said Taefu Ulu, mayor of Siufaga village.

The exchange aimed to replicate knowledge of conservation efforts, reinforce resilience and adaptability to climate change, and drives home the point that communities can take the lead in local conservation efforts and come up with relevant solutions. It is hoped that neighbouring villages, or similar initiatives, are able to share relevant best practices, and translate them into community action to achieve desired solutions.

“Resilient nations with adaptive capacity require empowered mechanisms to be in place in local communities to combat climate change. These include the restoration of marine coastal resources like mangroves to withstand the impacts of climate change, as well as coming up with ecosystem-based solutions for adaptation for small islands states like Samoa. UNDP is committed to helping Samoa’s local communities such as Faleaseela and Siufaga to build up their resilience and responses in these areas,” said Jorn Sorensen, UNDP Resident Representative.

The leaders’ visit was held early morning to coincide with low tide for easy access to the marine and mangrove sites at Faleaseela. This was followed by a talanoa styled informal session between the two villages, facilitated by the GEF SGP office.