Land: 2,934 sq. km
EEZ: 120,000 km 2
Population: 183,203 (2009)
Language: Samoa, English
Currency: Samoa Tala
Economy: agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, remittances, aid and financial services
Samoa is a small island country in the southwest Pacific, comprised of four main inhabited islands and six smaller, uninhabited islands (see Figure 1.1). Samoa has a total land area of roughly 2,900 km2. The capital, Apia, is in the northern part of Upolu.
Samoa’s main islands are characterised by a rugged and mountainous topography. Samoa is of volcanic origin, mainly from the Samoa-Uvea hotspot, and the movement of continental plates over a thin, hot spot in the crust. On Upolu, the central mountain range runs along the length of the island with some peaks rising more than 1,000 metres above sea level with the highest peak being Mt Fito at a height of 1,100 metres. Savai’i contains a central core of volcanic peaks reaching the highest point, Mt Silisili, at 1,858 metres.
More than 170,000 ha are categorised under forest areas. Around 46% of Upolu and 69% of Savaii’s total land area is covered by forest. The biggest portion of Upolu is forest area is made up of open forest and secondary forest, which clearly shows the high degree of forest depletion on the island. Savaii’s medium forest makes up for the largest portion of the total forest area, more than open forest and secondary forest combined.
Samoa’s climate is characterised by high rainfall and humidity, near-uniform temperatures throughout the year, winds dominated by the south easterly trade winds and the occurrence of tropical cyclones during the southern-hemisphere summer. Temperatures are generally uniform throughout the year, with a slight seasonal variation.
The 2006 census estimated 180,741 persons in Samoa. The population is estimated to have grown at a rate of 0.3ñ0.9%, per annum between 1971 and 2007. Since Samoa’s independence in 1962, significant levels of emigration have slowed the overall rate of population growth. The New Zealand quota scheme is a contributing factor. The net migration rate estimated for Samoa is 1.6-2.2%, per annum.
Samoa has a small and developing economy, with a GDP, as of September 2008, of around US$537 million. Like many other less-developed countries, the Samoan economy depends heavily on natural resources, both for the sustenance of its people and future economic expansion.
Samoa’s main primary industries are agriculture and fisheries. Secondary sectors include manufacturing, construction, electricity and water. Tertiary sectors include hospitality (hotels and restaurants) transport, communication; finance and business services. Samoa’s national income depends heavily on international trade, and overseas aid and remittances.
Samoa signed the UNFCCC in 1992 and ratified it in 1994. It signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and ratified it in 2000.
Date updated: March 2016
National Climate Change Priorities
The Strategy for Development of Samoa (SDS) highlights the key strategies for development across the priority sectors. The overarching theme for the SDS 2012-2016 is Boo siting productivity for sustainable development. The SDS highlights the importance of the environment as a priority area and has identified the mainstreaming of climate change across all sectors in increased investment in renewable energy as some of the main strategic outcomes. This political commitment to mainstream climate change issues is driving a number of actions that are aimed at not only adaptation to the pacts of climate change but also accelerating efforts to reduce GHG emissions.
Samoa’s National Policy on Combating Climate Change provides a framework to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. The policy’s overarching goal is to: “enhance Samoa’s response to the impacts of climate change in support of national sustainable development efforts”. The process for achieving this is detailed through a number of strategies outlined under the following key objectives:
- Promote public awareness and improve stakeholder understanding of the causes and effects of climate change
- Strengthen the management of climate change information
- Build capacity on effective national response to climate change
- Implement mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gases emissions causing climate change
- Implement adaptation measures to protect Samoa from the impacts of climate change
- Establish a regulatory framework to facilitate the national response to climate change.
Date updated: March 2016
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the political focal point of climate change in Samoa. The Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment (MNRE) is the operational focal point for climate change and disaster risk management. The Ministry of Finance is the central government ministry that is the climate resilience investment and coordinating unit.
Strategy for the Development of Samoa (SDS) 20012-2016: The SDS is the government’s main planning document that outlines a five-year programme of work to achieve Samoa’s development priorities. The current strategy covers the period 20012-2016 and includes a number of cross-sectoral activities relevant to climate change adaptation. Importantly, this includes a commitment to improve local resilience ìthrough continuation of work on coastal management and adaptation programmes for vulnerable villages and other coastal locations.
National Climate Change Policy: This was approved by Cabinet in early 2003 and outlines Samoa’s response to climate change, providing a national framework to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Highlighted adaptation measures include: implementing the NAPA, promoting cross-sectoral adaptation, promoting technology transfer, integrating climate change considerations into national planning and environmental policies, implementing coastal infrastructure management plans, implementing the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) project and providing financial resources to support adaptation.
National Adaptation Programme of Action: The Government of Samoa endorsed the NAPA as the national adaptation strategy and has given it top priority. The NAPA has also been incorporated into the Strategy for the Development of Samoa (SDS) 2008-2012 and 2012-2016. Samoa’s NAPA includes nine project profiles as priority adaptation activities. These are outlined in the adaptation tab of this profile. In the long-term, it is envisaged that the NAPA will continue to serve as the country's national adaptation programme and that future adaptation programmes will proceed from it.
Date updated: March 2016
Samoa is adopting a whole-of-government approach to climate change adaptation by advancing Samoa’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process, as established under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which integrates climate change adaptation into national development plans, budgets, and strategies. The Government will take critical steps to incorporate medium and long-term climate change and disaster-risk management priorities into the planning and budgeting processes of key economic sectors. It is expected that this will enable Samoa to better manage fast changing climate conditions that are eroding development gains achieved in the past decade.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Ministry of Finance will lead the initiative and ensure that comprehensive approaches to climate change risk management are strengthened and effective.
The move by Samoa to develop its NAP is possible through a US$12.3 million initiative, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), funded from the Least Developed Country Countries Fund (LDCF). The project is the largest national project ever funded by the Least Developed Countries Fund of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and it is considered a strategic move for Samoa as it shifts out of its least developed countries (LDC) status.
Samoa developed its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) prior to the NAPs back in 2005 and identified the most urgent and immediate needs for adapting to the adverse effects of climate change in Samoa. The NAPA adaptation priorities are:
- Securing community water resources (Water Sector)
- Reforestation, Rehabilitation and Community Forest Fire Prevention Programme (Forestry sector);
- Climate Health Cooperation Program (Health sector)
- Climate Early Warning System (Early Warning climate services)
- Agriculture and Food Security Sustainability (Agriculture & Food security sector)
- Zoning and Strategic Management Planning (Land use planning);
- Implementing CIM Plans for Highly Vulnerable Districts (Coastal sector);
- Establishing Conservation Programs in Highly Vulnerable Marine & Terrestrial Areas in (Village) Communities (Biodiversity); and
- Sustainable Tourism Adaptation Program (Tourism industry sector).
The priorities were implemented by various development partners and donors some of which were completed in in December 2014. For example, implementation of the CIM Plans for highly vulnerable districts under the UNDP-GEF Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) projected implemented through SPREP.
For information on Samoa’s adaptation projects, click on the "Projects" tab on the left.
Date updated: March 2016
Mean air temperature trends show little change at Apia since 1957 and the annual number of Cool Days has decreased. Annual and May–October rainfall has increased at Apia since 1890. This is most likely due to a shift in the mean location of the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) towards Samoa and/or there being a change in the intensity of rainfall associated with the SPCZ over the 122 year period. There has been little change in November–April rainfall since 1890 and extreme daily rainfall since 1961.
Tropical cyclones affect Samoa mainly between the months of November and April. An average of six cyclones per decade developed within or crossed the Samoa Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between the 1969/70 to 2010/11 seasons. Five of the 21 tropical cyclones (24%) between the 1981/82 and 2010/11 seasons were severe events (Category 3 or stronger) in the Samoa EEZ. Available data are not suitable for assessing long-term trends.
Variability of wind-waves at Samoa is characterised by trade winds and location of the SPCZ seasonally, and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) interannually with little variation in wave height throughout the year.
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, 2014.
- El Niño and La Niña events will continue to occur in the future (very high confidence), but there is little consensus on whether these events will change in intensity or frequency;
- Annual mean temperatures and extremely high daily temperatures will continue to rise (very high confidence);
- The CMIP5 models project little change in mean annual rainfall (low confidence), with more extreme rain events(high confidence);
- Incidence of drought is projected to decline or stay approximately the same (low confidence);
- Ocean acidification is expected to continue (very high confidence);
- The risk of coral bleaching will increase in the future (very high confidence);
- Sea level will continue to rise(very high confidence); and
- A reduction of wave period in December–March is projected with no change in wave height (low confidence). No change is projected in June–September (low confidence)
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, 2014.
Additional Resources for Climate Science Information:
- Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
- Pacific Climate Futures Tool
- Pacific Environment Information Network (PEIN) Country Profile: Samoa
- Pacific Regional Information System (PRISM)
- Samoa Meteorology Division
Date updated: March 2016
Knowledge Management & Education
Knowledge Management and education, particularly through public awareness are important as they help build Samoa’s adaptation capacity by making people aware of climate change issues. The MNRE is the key agency responsible for Samoa’s national climate change work, including education and public awareness.
Since Samoa ratified the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, a number of programmes have been conducted both at the national and local level to help promote public awareness. The National Policy on Combating Climate Change and the NAPA have highlighted key strategies on awareness. The Canadian-funded project Capacity Building for the Development of Adaptation Measures (CBDAMPIC) 2002-2005 also helped highlight climate-change issues at the local level, particularly in two vulnerable communities Saoluafata and Lano.
The current primary school curriculum does not contain any specific subjects on climate change, but there are related subjects under the science and social-science curricula. The secondary curriculum for Years 9 to 11 (Forms 3 to lower 5) also covers related topics within the science and social science subject areas. In Years 12 to 13 (Forms 5 to 6) the geography curriculum covers related topics (several strands are available) about environmental issues. In this strand, students can learn about climate change as a consequence of interactions between cultural environments and the atmospheric systems, and the different perspectives and responses to climate change.
Resource materials, for instance climate-change booklets, mangrove information and other cultural resources, have been developed and distributed to schools to help supplement teaching materials. Cooperation amongst different ministries and agencies has helped foster the values and behaviours that the young will need to build a sustainable future. Sources of information developed at the national level by government such as the First and Second National Communication reports to UNFCCC, NAPA, National Capacity Self-Assessment Climate Change Thematic Reports, Climate Risk Profiles and more are sources of information easily accessible to public and students for research purposes.
The completion of the Environment Resource Education Guide for Years 7 to 10 has helped support the implementation of environment education initiatives in Samoan schools. It is a compilation of instructional resource materials developed to enhance general understanding of key issues, information-sharing and learning at the primary and secondary levels.
A key focus of this guide is the need to integrate ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ (ESD) into national curricula. This will promote learning to empower the young, encouraging them to assume responsibility for their environment. The guide will also be used as a supplementary material for schools to introduce related topics on marine ecosystems, biodiversity, water resources, waste management, mangroves and climate change.
At the national level, the MNRE continues to promote awareness through consultation, seminars and workshops that engage communities and vulnerable settlements. As a pilot demonstration under CBDAMPIC, education activities were held at two selected communities at Lano and Saoluafata, targeting primary-school students and village leaders. This initiative involved presentations from the Meteorology Office, the MNRE capacity-building section, Red Cross and other members of the NCCT. A key outcome of this project was a documentary that focuses on the climate-change vulnerabilities of different communities.
In terms of staff development, a number of individuals from the MNRE, not only within the Climate Change Section, have been sent overseas to benefit from external training. Local media training has also helped increase awareness and understanding of the media, allowing Government and responsible agencies to communicate more effectively about climate-change issues.
In the process of completing Samoa’s SNC, the NCCCT is the main driving force in the formation of the working Groups from the different SNC components. This has resulted in the output of many reports from the different experts from each ministry, which also shows the high level of awareness and knowledge of climate-change issues within the different ministries.
For more information, go to www.mnre.gov.ws
Date updated: March 2016
On a global scale, Samoa’s contribution to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are negligible as highlighted in its Second National Communication (SNC) and second GHG Inventory, 2007. Total emissions for the year 2007 was estimated at 352,034 tCO2e or about 0.0006% of 2004 global GHG emissions (IPCC, 200). However, despite the low contribution to global emissions, Samoa is ramping up its efforts to reduce its GHG emissions and demonstrate to the global community the actions being undertaken by a small and vulnerable country to address climate change.
Samoa has demonstrated significant commitment to addressing climate change by establishing a target of generating 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. This commitment is proposed to be implemented over two time periods. The first target is to reach 100% renewable electricity generation by the year 2017. The second target is to maintain this 100% contribution through to 2025 in anticipation of the increasing electricity demand.
The Energy sector which accounted for 50% of total GHG emissions in 2007 is targeted for emissions reductions in Samoa’s INDC (see INDC section below) and in particular the electricity subsector. The National Energy Coordinating Committee which is the key decision making body in the energy sector has set a target for Samoa to generate 100% of its electricity from RE sources by 2017. This ambitious target is supported by a combination of policy level actions and development projects.
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions
The focus of Samoa’s INDC that was submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat in 2015 is on mitigation. This is due to the short time frame to prepare the report. For more information, go to unfccc.int. Samoa’s mitigation contribution pledged in November 2015 is for the target year 2025 measured against the base year of 2014. The implementation period is 2015-2025.
Type and level of commitment:
Target: Energy Sector. Sub-sector: Electricity. 26% of electricity was generated from renewable energy sources in 2014. Samoa commits to generating 100% of its electricity from RE sources by 2025. This is conditional on Samoa attaining this target in 2017 and receiving external assistance to maintain the contribution of RE sources at 100% through to 2025. Assistance required to reach this target include human, technological and financial resources.
Further economy-wide emissions reductions are conditional on Samoa receiving external financial assistance from the international community.
Estimated, quantified emissions impact: In 2014, ~55, 065 tC02e of Samoa’s GHG emissions were from the electricity sub sector.
% national emissions
Electricity sub sector accounted for ~13% of reported 2014 BAU scenario in all sectors since 2007 energy sector emissions.
Carbon dioide (CO2)
Intention to use market based mechanisms to meet commitments: Samoa currently uses no market mechanisms but is willing to pursue the potential of markets where possible.
Land sector accounting approach: Not applicable for Samoa
Date updated: March 2016
Focal points - Climate change & Disaster Risk Management
Tel: 685 23800
Fax: 011 685 23176
GEF Political Focal Point
His Excellency Ali'ioiga Feturi ELISAIA (Political Focal Point)
Permanent Mission of Samoa to the United Nations
685 Third Avenue, 11th Floor, Suite 1102
New York, N.Y. - 10017
Tel: 1 212 599 6196
Fax: 1 212 599 0797
Disaster Risk Management
Ms Filomena Nelson
Principal Disaster Management Officer/Acting
ACEO Disaster Management Office
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental
Mr Ausetalia Titimaea
Assistant Chief Executive Officer
Meteorological Service Division
Date updated: June 2017
The following references have been used to develop the country profile. It is important to note that contributions are from local, regional and international agencies. The profile is reviewed by the national focal point for accuracy. We encourage you to contact the country contacts (focal points) if any documents cannot be accessed through the links.
- Climate Risk Profile for Samoa, Report Prepared by Wairarapa J. Young, Samoa Meteorology Division. [Government of Samoa] (2007). Accessed on 14 June 2013: http://www.sprep.org/att/IRC/eCOPIES/Countries/Samoa/7.
- Dohan, Rosemary; Hove, Hilary; Echeverría, Daniella; Hammill, Anne; Parry, Jo-Ellen. (2011) “Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: The Pacific.” Adaptation Partnership / International Institute for Sustainable
- Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Meteorology [MNREM] (2005). National Adaptation Programme of Action Samoa. Retrieved from http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/napa/sam01.
- National Adaptation Programme of Action, Samoa Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment & Meteorology (MNREM), 2005 http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/napa/sam01.
- National Climate Change Country Team [NCCCT] (1999). Samoa. First National Communication to the UNFCCC. Retrieved from http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/natc/samnc1.
- Samoa’s Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Samoa Minister for Environment. Retrieved from http://www.sprep.org/att/irc/ecopies/countries/samoa/118.
- Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs [NMFA], Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, United Kingdom Department for International Development and the World Bank (2010). Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change: Samoa. Washington: The World Bank Group. Retrieved from http://climatechange.worldbank.org/sites/default/files/documents/EACC_Samoa.
- Samoa Meteorology Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Current and Future Climate of Samoa: Summary brochure by the Pacific Climate Change Science Program. Accessed on 28 May 2013: http://www.cawcr.gov.au/projects/PCCSP/pdf/3_PCCSP_Samoa_8pp.
- Climate Change in the Pacific, Volume 2: Country Reports, Chapter 12: Samoa. Accessed on 29 May 2013, http://www.cawcr.gov.au/projects/PCCSP/publications1.
- Samoa: Post-disaster Needs Assessment, Cyclone Evan 2012. Government of Samoa, March 2013. Accessed on 16 June 2013, https://www.gfdrr.org/sites/gfdrr.org/files/publication/SAMOA_PDNA_Cyclone_Evan_2012.
- Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), United Nations, July
- SPC, 2012. Samoa Country Energy Security Indicator Profile
Date updated: March 2016