27.03.2013 - UNESCO Office in Apia

A Ground Breaking Mobile Survey on Climate Change in the Pacific

UNESCO’s Apia office has officially launched its Climate Change Adaptation and Education project; SPARCK - Sharing Perceptions of Adaptation, Resilience and Climate Knowledge. The launch, which took place in Samoa, demonstrated the use of a mobile phone delivered questionnaire. This groundbreaking approach has never been used before in the Pacific and represents a genuine innovation in the fight against climate change.

As part of the theme science, technology and innovation for sustainable development, UNESCO wanted to incorporate an innovative technological dimension in the project. This will explore the role of technology in shaping the future we want for all in terms of dealing with climate risk. Mobile technology will be used to survey large, potentially geographically isolated populations, particularly people living in and around conservation areas, teachers and media in three countries in the Pacific. This will enable more people to engage with the issues that affect them whilst stimulating community based solutions.


Samoa and other Pacific Island countries are at the forefront of the battle against climate change, due to their high levels of exposure to extreme climate events. Project SPARCK aims to understand how communities respond to these events, their perceptions of climate change problems, and how local adaptation and resilience is created, so that long term solutions can be fostered. The goal of the project is to create and enhance adaptation and capacity opportunities to make Pacific communities more resilient to climate change through improved knowledge and climate change literacy.


The launch was preceded by an interactive focus group of media personnel in Samoa to gauge their perception as key stakeholders in the production and distribution of climate change material.  Speaking at the launch, Dr. Sue Vize highlighted the need “to support the education system and the media.  We don’t want to just run more training about climate change in general, but we want to know where to target training so that it can address any gaps in knowledge”.  Dr. Denis Chang-seng reinforced the project’s relevance and critical focus; “Adaptation and resilience building starts in the minds of men, women, boys and girls. Social perceptions of climate change shape decision making and adaptive actions at all levels and scales”. UNESCO staff spoke alongside colleagues from the University of Melbourne and Apidae Development Innovations to an audience of journalists, media and government – including CEO’s. All were treated to a cocktail reception to discuss the project and celebrate this momentous first for Samoa and the Pacific.


The project is currently gathering data for its Samoan pilot component and is preparing to roll out in Fiji and Vanuatu in the near future. For more information on the project and to keep up to date, contact Dr. Denis Chang Seng  (d.chang-seng(at)unesco.org) and Mr. Rory Walshe (r.walshe(at)unesco.org) or join the facebook page ‘Sparck Pacific Climate Change Project’.  

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