Samoa's Second National Communication - 2009


The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities. The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.

Approximately 70% of Samoa’s population and infrastructure are located in low-lying coastal areas. Projected sea level rise could exacerbate coastal erosion, loss of land and property and dislocation of the island inhabitants. The extreme events of tropical cyclones Ofa (1990) and Val (1991) caused damage with costs estimates of approximately four times the gross domestic product (GDP) of Samoa.

Project Details

Samoa, a small island country in the South West Pacific, was the first in the region to become independent in 1962.  The country is a group of two main islands, Savai’i and Upolu, as well as several smaller islands lying in the Polynesia region of the southern Pacific Ocean. The country consists of four main inhabited islands and six uninhabited islands.  Its total area is approximately 2,931 square kilometers, with a coastline of about 403 kilometers.  According to CIA's latest report, approximately 193,000 people live in Samoa, with an economy base on subsistence and exports that include agriculture, fishery and forestry products. Tourism is another growing industry.  There are also several food processing and automobile parts plants. However, the country  remains somewhat dependent on financial aid

The capital, Apia, is located on the second largest island Upolu and has a population of approximately 40,000 people.  The islands are of volcanic origin clearly visible in the form of several dormant volcanoes and lava fields. Approximately 70% of Samoa’s population and infrastructure are located in low-lying coastal areas. Projected sea level rise could exacerbate coastal erosion, loss of land and property and dislocation of the island inhabitants. The extreme events of tropical cyclones Ofa (1990) and Val (1991) caused damage with costs estimates of approximately four times the gross domestic product (GDP) of Samoa.
Adaptation Needs and Priorities
Samoa’s main concerns related to climate change are the potential implications of a change in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, coastal erosion and  sea level rise.  The islands are presently exposed to severe tropical cyclones that typically occur between December and February (NCCCT, 1999); Cyclone Ofa (1990) and Cyclone Val (1991), for example, caused massive damage to Samoa’s infrastructure, natural vegetation, crops and plantations (NMFA et al., 2010), resulting in economic costs equivalent to about three times the country’s Gross National Product (NCCCT, 1999). These vulnerabilities in part reflect the fact that about 70 per cent the country’s infrastructure and human settlements are located close to its coastline. Long dry periods associated with the El Nino Southern Oscillation are also a concern (NCCCT, 1999). 
In its Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Samoa examined five primary areas of vulnerability to climate change: agriculture,  human health, biodiversity,  coastal environments  and  water. The agricultural sector, it was noted, might have to adapt to greater variability in weather and soil conditions, as well as a possible increase in pests and disease. Human health was identified as a concern because of the possible (but not understood) impact of climate change on several common fatal vector- and water-borne diseases such as dengue fever, gastroenteritis and diarrhea. Biodiversity was an additional concern as islanders have long depended on natural resources to support their livelihood activities. As biodiversity is likely to be affected by extreme weather events and human activities, Samoa expressed a desire for more research to be undertaken on how it can prepare to adapt to extreme weather events and a possible increase in pests/disease.  Coastal environments, in addition to be  potentially being exposed to changes in the pattern of extreme weather events, could also experience greater erosion, the retreat of beaches and marshlands, and flooding of low-lying areas due to sea level rise. Currently, there is an abundance of water resources for Samoans, but the sector is vulnerable to deforestation, droughts and turbidity of surface waters. As temperatures rise, adaptation needs in the water sector were expected to become more important (NCCCT, 1999). 
More recently,  Samoa’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) identifies  urgent and immediate needs with respect to adaptation, with its top three being:
1) Water resources;
2) Reforestation programs and activities; and 
3) Education and awareness programs.
The main priority criteria for implementation of programs in these areas was identified as being ensuring that they are country-driven, local and community-based (MNREM, 2005).
National Level Policies and Strategic Documents
Samoa released its First National Communication in 1999, which outlines the socioeconomic and environmental status of Samoa and describes several possible adaptation actions for each of the priority sectors identified (NCCCT, 1999).  Its adaptation needs and priorities were further elaborated in its 2005 NAPA (MNREM, 2005). Samoa has also established the Samoa National Climate Change Country Team, which is composed primarily of government representatives but also includes members of civil society (NMFA  et al., 2010).
As well, climate change concerns have been acknowledged in Samoa’s  Strategy for the Development of Samoa (2008-12). This strategy identifies national priorities related to key development sectors and guides all development activities in the country. Of the seven goals identified in the 2008-12 Strategy, climate change adaptation is integrated into Goal 7, “Environmental Sustainability and Disaster Risk Reduction.”  As in the NAPA, the Strategy highlights the potential for greater risk of natural disasters due to climate change and deforestation. The strategy highlights the need to implement the Disaster Management Act of 2007 and to further address the vulnerability of coastal communities (NMFA et al., 2010).  
Current Adaptation Action
Relative to other Pacific Island countries, a very high number of climate change adaptation projects—national, regional and global—are presently underway in Samoa.  Most of these projects focus on forestry and agriculture,  but also address coastal zone management, human health, meteorological capacity, infrastructure, water and policy and planning. There are a variety of funding agencies active in the country, with the most common being the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank and the governments of Australia and Germany. Samoa also has received funding for two projects through the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) that address priority actions identified in its NAPA.  
Proposed Adaptation Action
Samoa  identified a  number of projects  in its NAPA  to  address many of  its  capacity building needs.  All of the adaptation projects suggested have a strong community component. Support for implementation of these priority actions has been received from the LCDF through the projects “Integrated Climate Change Adaptation in Samoa” and “Integration of Climate Change Risk and Resilience into Forestry Management.



Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Through improved identification of national circumstances, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Government of Samoa
Ministry of Health, Government of Samoa
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Government of Samoa
Samoa Tourism Authority
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Project Status: 
Under Implementation
Financing Amount: 
Co-Financing Total: 

Key Results and Outputs

  • Sustainable development and the integration of climate change concerns into medium- and long-term planning
  • Inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases
  • Measures contributing to addressing climate change
  • Research and systematic observation
  • Climate change impacts, adaptation measures and response strategies
  • Education, training and public awareness

Potential Adaptation Measures

Agriculture and Food Security:

  • Educational & outreach activities to change management practices to those suited to climate change
  • Switch to different cultivars Water Resources

Water Resources:

  • Increase water supply, e.g. by using groundwater, building reservoirs, improving or stabilizing watershed management, desalination
  • Decrease water demands, e.g. by increasing efficiency, reducing water losses, water recycling, changing irrigation practices
  • Develop and introduce flood and drought monitoring and control system

Coastal Zones and Marine Ecosystems:

  • Develop Integrated Coastal Zone Management
  • Develop planning/new investment requirements
  • Protect, including building sea walls, and beach nourishment

Reports and Publications

Monitoring and Evaluation

In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.

Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention.

The core elements of the national communications for both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties are information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention. National communications usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessment, financial resources and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.

Since 1994, governments have invested significant time and resources in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions, and the COP has made determined efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the data, which are ensured by established guidelines for reporting. Non-Annex I Parties receive financial and technical assistance in preparing their national communications, facilitated by the UNFCCC secretariat.


UNDP [nid:57]
Yamil Bonduki
Coordinator, National Communications Support Programme (NCSP)
Spencer Thomas
Project Affiliate