The next steps in the journey to implement the Weather Ready Pacific (WRP) programme, to strengthen the Pacific region’s ability to anticipate, plan for, and respond to high impact and extreme weather, water, and ocean events, were highlighted at the 31st SPREP Meeting of Officials in Samoa.

These steps include the development of a Governance structure and an Implementation Plan to guide the roll out of the WRP. The steps were highlighted on the margins of the 31st SPREP Meeting of Officials during the “Preparing for Weather Events of the Future: Is the Pacific Prepared enough to face the weather of the Future brought about by climate change?” side event on Monday.

The side event featured the Assistant CEO of Samoa’s Met Division, Dr Luteru Tauvale, who spoke about the importance of WRP, especially as a platform to build the capacity of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) to serve their communities better.

The Permanent Secretary of Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology (MECDM), Dr Melchior Mataki, highlighted the outcomes of the Third Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology (PMMM-3) held Fiji recently, which concluded with the Namaka Declaration. WRP is a significant part of the Namaka Declaration, where Pacific Government Ministers reaffirm their commitment to strengthen weather, climate, water, ocean and related development services in the Pacific.

Dr Mataki said Weather Ready Pacific is a critical part of the Pacific’s response to predictions of more intense tropical cyclones, increased heat stress, extreme rainfalls, storm surges, droughts, sea level rise and marine heatwaves.

The Director of Climate Change Resilience at SPREP, Tagaloa Cooper, agrees and reiterated that Weather Ready Pacific is a “game changer” for the Pacific.

“We know that Early Warnings are critical to our work and it is critical that these warnings reach the last mile,” she said.

“The Weather Ready Pacific programme is a key part of this collective effort. The programmatic approach towards Weather Ready came from a passion, vision and conviction to do the right thing in our work to save lives and protect our Pacific communities.”

The Weather Ready Pacific Programme was developed as a result of a call by the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC). With the support of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), and the Government of Australia through the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) the Weather Ready Pacific Decadal Programme was officially endorsed by the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in 2021.

WRP has a goal of USD$167million for ten years to implement the work, with the Government of Australia providing initial funding support of AUD$30 million (US$20 million). The Government of Tonga championed and presented the Weather Ready Pacific programme to the Pacific Leaders meeting in 2021, with the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand providing initial support.