Minister Shares Solutions on Disaster Resilience of Airports
“GLOBAL STUDY ON DISASTER RESILIENCE OF AIRPORTS”
Director General of Coalition Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
Distinguished speakers and participants
Ladies and Gentlemen
As the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure of the Government of Samoa, it is a privilege to deliver the keynote address to release the Global Study on Disaster Resilience of Airports.
This is the first study on disaster resilience of airports that has been commissioned; therefore, I must convey my congratulations to CDRI as well as all the 111 airports from 54 countries that participated to ensure this study is completed.
Samoa, a Small Island Developing State, has only 1 international airport namely Faleolo International Airport. It is vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding and cyclones.
I had worked as a Technical Manager in Navigation Systems with the Samoa Airport Authority for 15 years up until 2003. During that time, Samoa’s airport navigation system was analogue. The presence of fog, high intensity winds during bad weather affected the full functionality of the airport’s navigation systems.
Moreover, the inundation of some areas of the airport from sea level rise and its subsequent seepage into underground cabling affected the ability of Faleolo to provide services safely causing major flight disruptions.
Now that I am a Minister of Samoa’s Transport and Infrastructure sector, while I have seen improvements in systems at the airport, our airport like our other major infrastructure is still extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
For Samoa’s Airport Authority, they participated in the climate change resilience and adaptation survey conducted by Airports Council International (ACI). As highlighted in the Global Study on Disaster Resilience of airports, Samoa also supports the need to be proactive in its preparedness towards hazard management and resilience planning. In doing this, the audience for consultation and reviews of airport emergency response plans and disaster recovery plans on resilience measures has been broadened and not limited to the traditional airport stakeholders.
To demonstrate Samoa Airport Authority’s commitment to proactive preparedness, the Government of Samoa is recipient of a grant funded project by the World Bank; namely the Samoa Aviation and Roads Investment Project (SARIP). Under this project, there are planned improvements of the current drainage system at the Faleolo International Airport based on the flooding event of December 2020.
The project will involve undertaking a comprehensive hydrological study of the airport precinct to inform the airport’s stormwater system upgrade design as well as rehabilitation of the seawall surrounding the airport.
The Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure plays a vital regulatory role in providing surveillance and continuous monitoring of the Airport’s facilities and operations including revitalized focus on adaptation and resilience measures to climate change.
In this perspective, the Ministry is working on the ICAO adopted Long Term global Aspirational Goals (LTAG) for international aviation of net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. This may result in some legislative amendments which is the Ministry’s mandate to ensure National Aviation activities achieve this.
The improvement works by the Samoa Airport Authority in conjunction with the Ministry of Works Transport and Infrastructure’s regulatory role will significantly enhance Samoa’s airport’s climate resilience and reduce frequency of third-partysystems failure that result in partial infrastructural restrictions, flight disruptions which ultimately affects Samoa’s economy.
The proactive approach taken by the Government of Samoa for its airport is the same for infrastructure in the other modes of transport- sea and land. I highly encourage governments of other countries to do the same!
We look forward to the actions and works that will be implemented as a result of the Global Study on Disaster Resilience of Airports. Furthermore, I wish all participants of this Conference to have fruitful and productive discussions.