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NZ’s silence in Pacific climate change talk disappoints local lobby groups

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A church damaged by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. Image: Helen Manson/Tearfund

New Zealand recently set a new climate change target to reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 – less than what was promised five years ago at Copenhagen. Critics say “that’s shameful”, reports Asia-Pacific Journalism.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Georgina Harris

New Zealand’s lack of Pacific climate change talk in a United Nations Security Council debate in New York last month has disappointed local non-government organisations.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully gave a statement at the New Zealand-sponsored open debate on July 31 that discussed peace and security challenges facing small island developing states (SIDS).

The debate, opened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, was New Zealand’s final intitiative of its month-long presidency of the Security Council. Read more »

Melanesia takes lead on brokering future peace for West Papua

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Disappointed … but a step forward. United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) leaders Octo Mote (left) and Benny Wenda with observer status at the Honiara meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Image: Stefan Armbruster/SBS

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Stefan Armbruster in Honiara

Melanesian nations have taken the lead in trying to broker a peaceful future for Indonesia’s contested West Papuan provinces.

Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia’s FLNKS took the step at the 20th Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit in Honiara.

Since Indonesia took over the former Dutch colony in the 1960s, there has been a brutal conflict in West Papua that is estimated to have cost hundreds-of-thousands of lives. Read more »

How a ni-Vanuatu activist on Rainbow Warrior escaped being bombed

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Front page of David Robie’s cover story in Islands Business news magazine in August 1985. Image: John Miller/Eyes of Fire

Pacific Scoop:
Backgrounder – By Len Garae
in Port Vila

On the night of 10 July 1985, three decades ago, the Vanuatu government representative on board the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, Charles Rara, was on shore leave with Baldwin Lonsdale – current Head of State.

He was staying at his home at St John’s Theological College in Auckland, where President Lonsdale was then doing his studies.

Captain Pete Willcox and some of his crew were already asleep on board the campaign ship. Read more »

‘Huge support’ for West Papua bid to join MSG, says under cover journo

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A solidarity support demonstration in the Solomon Islands capital of Honiara yesterday. Image: ULMWP

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch in Honiara

A Dutch journalist who has been travelling in Indonesia’s Papua region says the depth of local support for a West Papuan application to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group is huge.

The MSG leaders are due in Honiara next week when they are expected to make a decision on a membership bid by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua, an organisation of leading West Papuan representative groups.

Reporting undercover from Papua, Rohan Radheya said recently there had been many demonstrations in support of the bid. Read more »

Asia-Pacific political media PJR book launched at AMIC 2015

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AMIC secretary-general Ramon R. Tuazon, chairman Dr Crispin C. Maslog, and PMC director Dr David Robie at the book launch in Dubai. Image: Tarleen Archuleta/AUD

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch in Dubai

A new book edition of Pacific Journalism Review featuring Asia-Pacific political journalism has been launched at AMIC 2015 along with three titles by prolific Filipino mass communication scholar Dr Crispin C. Maslog.

Editor Professor David Robie of PJR spoke at the launch of the special edition marking 20 years of publication of the regional research journal and praised the collaboration between the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) and Pacific Media Centre (PMC) at the Auckland University of Technology.

“Publication of this book represents a new stage in the Asia-Pacific partnership between these two centres and we hope more books of this nature will follow for the region,” he said. Read more »

Raging Cyclone Pam bears down on Vanuatu – up to three other storms hit Pacific

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A flooded street in Port Vila today before Cyclone Pam had even hit Vanuatu. Image: UNICEF Pacific

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By the PMC news desk

As three tropical storms and cyclones raged across the Pacific today, aid agencies have been bracing for what could become an unprecedented relief response.

The centre of the cyclone’s circulation is expected to impact Port Vila. “[It’s] very bad news for Efate (population of 60,000) and the capital of Port Vila – they should at least get into the western eyewall,” said The Weather Channel meteorologist Matt Crowther.

Severe tropical cyclone Pam, tropical storm Bavi and cyclone Nathan were racing across the region with Pam expected to impact on Vanuatu. The Weather Channel reports a fourth storm in the Pacific. Read more »

Saving the Kolombangara cloud forest in the law courts

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Local guides Mofat, Sese, Ashley and Boe leading a walking party through the mossy cloud forests near the Kolombangara Island crater, Patu Kolo, rim. Image: Andrew Cox/Scoop

A collective of indigenous landowners have formed an association that is testing the strength of the Solomon Islands’ environmental law and taking their own national government to court over alleged irregularities in the way it gave the green light to a logging company, writes Dr Kayt Davies.

Pacific Scoop:
Special Report – By Kayt Davies

The cloud forest is in danger and logging companies are part of the problem but, in this case, the fight’s moved on. Now the Solomon Islands government is facing legal questions and work is underway on the real challenge of getting people with genuine developing world needs to find consensus – and that costs money.

Kolombangara is just one of many thousands of islands in the South Pacific. Dazed by the beauty of the whole archipelago that is the Solomon Islands, this one may not immediately seem remarkable, but its own people care deeply and the progress they are making in protecting it is slow but groundbreaking.

These are not spear-wielding noble savages holding logging trucks at bay. They are a collective of indigenous landowners who formed an association that is testing the strength of the fledgling nation’s environmental law and taking their own national government to court over alleged irregularities in the way it gave the green light to a logging company. Read more »

SPECIAL REPORT: Poverty in Paradise – commitment needed from Pacific nations

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Dr Teuila Percival … tourists find it hard to believe that malnourished children actually die in Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomons. Image: Struan Purdie/APJ

Beyond the glossy travel brochures and postcards, a disturbing trend is emerging. Poverty is on the rise across the Pacific region, reports Asia-Pacific Journalism.

Pacific Scoop:
Special Report – By Struan Purdie

The waters surrounding Fiji’s outer atolls are crystal clear and warm all year round, which is just how visitors to Laucala Island Resort like it. But only a select few will ever get to visit the exclusive private island.

Prices start at around US$5520 a night for a one bedroom villa, making it one of the world’s most expensive holiday destinations.

It is islands like Laucala that have put the Pacific region on the map for stunning tourist escapes. Read more »

SIDS wrap in Samoa: It really is a matter of life and death

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Facing the future … the SIDS conference in Apia, Samoa, this week. Image: SIDSlive.com

Pacific Scoop:
Comment – By Mata’afa Keni Lesa

The urgency with which a number of challenges the small island developing states are confronted with means only one thing. That is the third Small Island Developing States (SIDS) conference, which has just ended in Samoa, cannot be treated as business as usual.

While it’s easy to get lost and become totally overwhelmed by the emotions and magnitude of the issues and the personalities who have been to Samoa to talk about them, the reality of life for small island states must never be forgotten.

It’s quite scary in fact. Our islands are slowly but surely sinking. Coastal erosion and sea level rise are becoming more menacing with each single day so that countless families have had to relocate or risk being swept out to sea. Read more »

Choiseul – first climate change town to move in bid to beat tsunamis

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A welcome move … some of the Choiseul Bay community check out the relocation plans. Image: Dr Simon Albert/UQ

Fear of tsunamis and the threat of rising sea levels has made a provincial capital in the Solomon Islands decide to relocate its entire population – the first time this has happened on this scale in the Pacific. Asia-Pacific Journalism reports on the challenges of relocating.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Elesha Edmonds

Residents of a provincial capital in the Solomon Islands have to always keep their eyes on the tide as they live in fear of being flooded by the ocean.

Choiseul, a township on Taro Island, which is the provincial capital of Choiseul Province, is home to about 1000 people and sits less than two metres above sea level, making the island vulnerable to storm surges and tsunamis.

It has reached the point that authorities have decided relocation is the only long-term solution to combat the existing and future risks of climate change. Read more »

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