The Pacific Islands Communication and Infrastructure Panel commenced its one-day discussion on the 24 July 2016 with the ultimate aim to improving telecommunication infrastructure for collection and dissemination weather, climate, tsunami, flood and other natural hazards data, information and warnings. More importantly is to foster greater dissemination of information and warnings to the “last mile” – most remote and rural islands’ communities.

Chair of the Panel, Mr Ausetalia Titimaea from Samoa and two vice-Chairs, Mr. Wilson Leguvaka from Solomon Islands and Mr. Edward Young from the USA were elected to lead the works of the Panel

The Panel is part of the Pacific Meteorological Council, established to provide technical advice on telecommunication infrastructure, a follow up on decisions by the Third Meeting of the Pacific Meteorological Council and the First Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology, and both meetings were held in Tonga in July 2016. 

The Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology agreed that telecommunication networks and information technology infrastructure used by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) are critical for exchange and delivery of weather, climate, water and related environmental observations and data, and products vital for the timely delivery of alerts, impact-based forecasting, and successful operation of the Multi-Hazard Early Warning System and the Multi-Hazard Information System.

The Meeting further agreed to prioritise improvements in the capabilities of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of the Pacific islands countries and territories with our national Telecommunication Authorities and mobile phone carriers to provide greater reach for warning services to remote areas.

The Pacific Meteorological Council outcomes:

  • Requested that SPREP to work with USA to explore the establishment of a fund for Pacific emergency meteorological communications development which can be supported by multiple donors, countries and local stakeholders focusing on Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries
  • Requested that SPREP and the Pacific Meteorological Desk Partnership to explore opportunities with mobile phone service providers for additional distribution pathways for emergency communications messages;
  • Noted that USA NOAA’s Pacific International Training Desk is conducting a survey in the NMHS of Pacific SIDS to determine the type of communications systems training that is deemed a priority, and requested for a response to the survey;
  • Recommended that PMC and SPREP to work with non-WMO Members but members of PMC to provide to them update and information on WMO activities in the development of key programs that may benefit these concerned Pacific island countries and territories;
  • Requested that Chair of the Pacific Meteorological Council  to discuss with WMO Regional Association V (South-West Pacific) Management Group for inclusion of additional experts from PICTs in the WMO Regional Association V (South-West Pacific) Working Group on Infrastructure, specifically to its Task Teams on the WMO Integrated Observing System and Information System.

The Pacific Islands Communication and Infrastructure Panel discussions involved participants from the Pacific island countries and territories, regional organisations, United Nations agencies, national telecommunication authorities, NMHSs, Geo-hazards Office, National Disaster Management Offices, academic institutions, and research institutions

The Pacific Islands Communication and Infrastructure Panel discussion is supported by the Government of Solomon islands through the Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Meteorology and Disaster Management, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Oceania Regional Seismic Network, World Meteorological Organisation and the University of Hawaii.