High Level Dialogue 2 Remarks by
Dr. Filimon Manoni, Deputy Secretary General,
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
Seventh Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction
Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center
23 – 28 May, 2022/ Bali, Indonesia
Good afternoon and it’s my honour to share a few words on integrated climate and disaster risk management in the Pacific.
- I would like to extend my gratitude to UNDRR for their kind invitation to attend this Seventh Session of the Global Platform for DRR and for supporting the Pacific delegations’ participation in this platform. Let me also thank the government and people of Indonesia for graciously hosting us here in Bali.
- Indeed, we can agree that Pacific Island Countries are at the frontline, and evidence shows that a few hours of extreme events could wipe out decades of development gains. The most recent and devastating disaster in the Pacific was the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga on 15 January this year. This resulted in damage estimated at USD90.4 million or 18.5% of GDP affecting housing, infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries and compounding the already pervasive impacts of COVID-19 on Tonga’s economy. There is global impetus for building back better and consistent resilience building.
- Friends, I’ve been asked to share our Pacific experience in relation to the governance arrangements for integrated climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. The Pacific’s governance experience with integration is on a number of levels. Firstly, our countries led the effort to have integrated approaches to climate change and disaster risk more than 10 years ago when they recognised the need to integrate. This was done primarily through strategic planning, such as in Tonga, the Cook Islands, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands all of which developed Joint National Action Plans for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management. In some cases, integration was through a combination of overarching national policy and sub-national planning such as in the Federated States of Micronesia which developed State-level joint actions plans for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management. In Vanuatu, the main emphasis was through the establishment of institutional coordination arrangements for integration through the establishment of a National Advisory Board for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management.
- Secondly, as a regional response to such national initiatives, Pacific Island Forum Leaders endorsed the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific and its attendant enabling mechanism the Pacific Resilience Partnership in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Our Leaders have also endorsed the establishment of an innovative small grants facility to build resilience – the Pacific Resilience Facility. A global pledging event to capitalise this facility is planned for late this year in partnership with the Office of the UN Secretary General.
- The combination of such efforts has helped lay the foundation for a more strategic and consistent approach to comprehensive risk management within the context of how our island countries have addressed their development aspirations.
- New tools and guidance have emerged to support the integration of climate and disaster risk in the context of development. For example, in Fiji efforts are progressing with a climate budget tracking tool that will enable greater transparency and accountability in the use of climate change and disaster risk funding. In Tonga, climate and disaster risk mainstreaming, disaster risk financing and climate financing have gained momentum through a new Resilient Development Finance and Aid Management Division under their Ministry of Finance, which is now positioned to co-lead the resilience effort complementing the work of technical and sectoral agencies. This is also the case of Solomon Islands where the Ministry of Finance has established a Unit to coordinate and manage their climate change finance and disaster finance efforts.
- Although countries have undertaken further institutionalisation of the integration ethos, the challenge now is to maintain a consistency of effort. There continues to be institutional and capacity issues. Our governments are challenged to retain skilled staff and the turnover can be significant resulting in loss of critical institutional memory. On another level the continued siloed nature of global climate change and disaster risk discourse translates to duplication of actions at the national level which our capacity constrained bureaucracies are challenged to coordinate and manage. The separate efforts to develop national climate change policies and plans and as well disaster risk reduction plans, is a good example.
- How do we deal with this and provide meaningful support at the regional level? Through the Pacific Resilience Partnership, there has been a noticeable improvement in the coordination of various resilience building initiatives. A range of technical working groups under the banner of the Pacific Resilience Partnership are now in existence to strengthen coordination, collaboration and synergy of efforts amongst partners and countries.
- An example that the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is actively involved in is the Disaster Risk Finance Technical Working Group which brings together countries and partners to provide capacity support in areas linked to improving financial protection against disasters.
- We have also developed tools such as the Pacific Resilience Standards which provide guidance to different stakeholders at different levels on how to strengthen the effectiveness, quality and integrity of resilience building; and to plan, implement and evaluate resilience interventions at different levels.
- Going forward, if we are to do better in the governance of risk in the future then we need to consider the following:
- A shared vision of resilience that is owned by all and is backed with political will at the highest level.
- Continuously examine and adapt our systems and processes and bring about greater efficiencies so that the burden of continuity and sustainability is easier to bear; and
- Access to robust and contextualised data and information in more useable forms for decision-making.
- The Sendai Framework review will be a useful litmus test for all of us in terms of how we have progressed. We also intend to review the progress against the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific in 2023. We want our leaders to have a clear understanding of what we can address better and then challenge us to do better.
I thank you. –ENDS
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