A ground-breaking way to address how Pacific Island countries prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters was launched today by the European Union Ambassador for the Pacific, H.E. Andrew Jacobs, and the Premier of Niue, the Hon Toke Talagi, in the margins of the Pacific Community Conference in Alofi.

Niue is the first Pacific Island country to commit to the Strategic Roadmap for Emergency Management which will ensure its emergency services work together to build a solid foundation for a prosperous future for the people of Niue.

The roadmap has been created as part of the European Union supported project, EURO 19.6 million ACP-EU Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific, implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) and created in partnership with the Pacific Islands Emergency Management Alliance (PIEMA).

Moreover, the roadmap launch was part of a ceremony involving the handover of a new firetruck and ground-breaking on the site of a new centre that will become a centralised location for all response agencies and the coordination point for emergency management of incidents on Niue.

Ambassador Jacobs said he was honoured to launch the Strategic Roadmap for Emergency Management and to formally handover a new firetruck, funded through the BSRP project.

“Niue’s government is showing strong leadership and forward thinking. The European Union is committed to support Niue’s and our Pacific partners and friends’ innovative efforts to build their resilience,” Ambassador Jacobs said.

It is being developed across 14 more Pacific Island countries that are part of the BSRP project to ensure innovative and efficient solutions to disaster preparedness and response are brought together to build and support the rich culture and people of the Pacific region.

“In a first for the Pacific, Niue’s Joint Emergency Operations Centre will house the Police Station, National Disaster Management Office and Niue Fire Rescue Service,” the Premier of Niue and Minister For Central Agencies and Premier, the Hon Toke Talagi, said.

“This is highly beneficial to the entire country as our emergency services are coordinated and we are better equipped to share resources, prepare communities and respond to disasters when they inevitably strike,” Premier Talagi said.

At present, only two Airport Crash Firetrucks exist in Alofi so this support will help protect the people of Niue into the future when they’re affected by disaster, the Premier said.

The new centre will include Niue’s Rescue Coordination Centre, a staging area for emergency vehicles and equipment, as well as relief and rehabilitation supplies, and a backup Activation Centre for the Niue Tsunami Early Warning System.

Speaking at the event, the Director of SPC’s Geoscience Division, Professor Mike Petterson, congratulated the Government of Nuie on setting the benchmark for other Pacific countries and territories.

“We celebrate our strengths and resilience in responding to the unique challenges we face in our region and the launch of the first Strategic Roadmap for Emergency Management is a true testament to the Niue Government, its National Disaster Management Office, the European Union and the Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific project to create innovative and collaborative relationships that strengthen the resilience of Niue,” Prof Petterson said.

The Niue Government has pledged NZ$100,000 towards the construction in addition to provision of the land.  The first stage of construction is being supported by the European Union and New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade through its High Commission in Niue.

Additionally, the Australian Government, through the Australian Federal Police, is providing funding to purchase equipment.

Participating in the ground-breaking were Premier Talagi, Ambassador Jacobs, New Zealand High Commissioner to Niue, Ross Ardern,  the Assistant Secretary, Pacific Regional Branch, of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Alice Cawte and Prof Petterson of SPC.

The roadmap was also created with support from the Pacific Islands Emergency Management Alliance along with SPC, NZ Fire Service and NZ Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management.  The document is available here: http://gsd.spc.int/images/stories/pdf/Strategic_Roadmap_NIUE_2015.pdf

Media contacts:
Lauren Robinson   SPC Acting Media Relations Team Leader, E: laurenr@spc.int, +683 6800
Mona Ainuu   Public Relations and Media Officer, Niue, mona.ainuu@mail.gov.nu,  683 4200
Mohammed Nazeem Kasim   EU Press Officer, Mohammed-Nazeem.KASIM@eeas.europa.eu

Participating in the ground-breaking were (left to right) DFAT’s Alice Cawte, SPC’s Mike Petterson, Niue Premier Toke Talagi, EU Ambassador Jacobs and New Zealand High Commissioner to Niue, Ross Ardern.