Despite resigning from her portfolio as Minister of Natural Resources and Environment along with her role as Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa says she continues to be committed to the causes she worked on while holding the portfolio.
In reflecting on the highlights of her role as MNRE Minister, she said that being involved in global solutions for climate change was a highlight.
“Being exposed to and learning about so many more issues, and also on international side, working with the international community to come to a common purpose, especially around climate change, because it’s such a global issue,” she said.
Fiames leadership paved the way for the Samoa Ocean Strategy launched this month and she was instrumental in Samoas engagement in Samoas regional engagement towards the Global Oceans Conference and the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23).
According to Fiame, the key to achieving outcomes in any Ministerial portfolio is to trust the people she works with and the experts in the sector she is assigned to. She commended many of the officers in MNRE she worked with on various environmental issues.
“Every experience is a learning experience, and that’s the wonderful thing about politics, you never know where you might end up with. Each portfolio you are having to learn a lot, and to work with the people in Ministry and Sector. For me that’s the rewarding thing,” she said.
Fiame was Samoas head of delegation to the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) where she presented alongside world leaders. She was also a featured speaker in various events including gender and climate change.
She remains the Patron of Women in Climate Change, a women’s environmental network founded in January 2018 to advance womens work in the climate sector. In 2018 she co-hosted the Pacific Climate Lunch with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to raise the profile of climate crisis impacts in the Pacific.
She received an Ocean Stewardship Award from Conservation International in 2018 for her leadership on the Samoa Ocean Strategy and oceans and climate change awareness in Samoa. According to Fiame, the highlight for her in the past term was mostly with her work with the staff of MNRE and on the issues they worked on globally.