The Pearl Resort
Pacific Harbour, Fiji
21 June 2016
– Honourable Sailosi Sovaleni, Deputy Prime Minister, of the Kingdom of Tonga
– Your Excellences
– Distinguished Delegates
– Ladies and gentlemen
- I would like to thank World Bank for their vision and support in developing the PREP and their commitment to building resilience in the Pacific. The Forum Secretariat is looking forward to being a partner in this programme of work as it develops and evolves in the coming years.
- Let me make a few comments about the importance of building resilience and the benefits of working together as a region to strengthen our resilience to climate change and natural hazards.
The Vulnerability of the Pacific
- We live in a beautiful but vulnerable region that is exposed to a variety of disaster events, occasioned by both natural and human made hazards, which cause increasing human and economic costs. The situation is exacerbated when combined with slow onset events and other challenges such as population pressure and poorly planned development.
- We know that one single event can undo decades of progress – for instance Cyclone Evan in Samoa in 2012 was estimated to have cost 30% of GDP. Damages from Cyclone Pam last year cost Vanuatu over USD 450 million, while costs of damage from Cyclone Winston in Fiji is estimated as high as FJD 1 billion.
- As a region we aspire to be resilient in our development and resilient development entails understanding and addressing risks in an integrated, systematic and effective manner.
- Let me quickly explore the rationale for regional action and the benefits from the associated coordination, cooperation and financing when it comes to supporting national challenges.
PIFS Role in resilience
- I am sure that several of you here are interested maybe even surprised to see PIFS as a partner of the PREP. There are some good reasons. In a World Bank Policy and Practice Note in 2012 titled “Acting Today for Tomorrow”, the paper identified that beyond the technical work on climate change and disaster risk management, that PIFS has a role in providing the necessary political authority, leadership, and accountability and in coordination and partnerships that are missing from technical efforts in DRM and CC.
- Hence, I see our value is in our convening powers, access to Leaders, Foreign Ministers and Economic Ministers. PIFS role is about bringing forward resilient development and promoting better aid coordination and partner cooperation at the regional level and coordination of development partners for improved accessibility to resources.
- In terms of relevant meetings, some of you might be aware that Forum Foreign Ministers met in Sydney last July to discuss how regional efforts in disaster management should meaningfully integrate variable capacities, needs and risks and focus on preparedness.
- Some initial ideas discussed by Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers last year, include supporting national capacity through initiatives such as a vetted roster of skilled people in relevant areas, pre-organised procurement of necessary supplies with private companies, and South-South attachments of staff with expertise in fund administration and partner coordination, all of which can all be developed as part of an integrated regional programme that builds resilience.
- Through an initiative such as the PREP we can link the decisions of Ministers and the actions of development partners to support country led plans. Hence, there is great benefit in continuing the current policy dialogue and collaboration on resilience building through the PREP, as well as expanding the conversation to include other relevant stakeholders, particularly the private sector and non-government organisations.
- I should also mention that PIFS is also representing the Leaders political interests by becoming an Observer to the Green Climate Fund and actively supporting the work of the SIDS Representative on the GCF Board and providing technical advice at climate change negotiations on finance issues.
The value of PREP in Catalyzing New Actions
- We know that the issue of project based development has affected long-term decisions at the national level. Development partners have mostly operated at a bilateral level and on a project specific basis regarding disaster risk management and climate change. This has often led to poorly coordinated support and stretches national capacity to implement these multiple projects.
- We hope as a partner of the PREP that this can be approached differently, under the aegis of the Forum Compact on Aid Effectiveness, PIFS will work to ensure that the PREP combines policy support, improved preparedness and response, as well as investments for risk reduction in various sectors (particularly, in infrastructure, urban development, agriculture, water and coastal management). That is, encouraging a holistic approach to development financing for resilience.
- Most Pacific Island Countries are already taking concrete steps to manage risks in a more integrated manner in recognition of the clear overlaps between climate change adaptation and Disaster Risk Management, recognising that similar tools and resources are required to monitor, analyse and address climate change and disaster risks. For example, many countries have developed Joint National Action Plans for disaster risk management and climate change; merged national institutional arrangements for climate change and disaster risk management; and/or adopted integrated measures at programmatic level.
- The integrated approach is also being developed for adoption at the regional level with the development of a combined regional strategy – the Strategy for Resilient Development in the Pacific: An Integrated Approach to Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (SRDP). Currently there are two separate regional strategies for climate change and disaster risk management, respectively and both will conclude at the end of 2016.
- The next phase of work is to secure the endorsement of the SRDP by Pacific Island Forum Island Leaders at their 2016 meeting in FSM. The strategy will then shape a program of specific support undertaken by the regional organisations as they seek to backstop national resilience plans.
- Disasters, climate variability or extreme weather and future changes in climate, are increasingly recognized as a core development challenge as they adversely impact social and economic development. Lessons from Cyclone Pam and Winston need to be shared and reinforced – investing in preparedness and disaster risk reduction pays dividends in lives, livelihoods and finance. Similarly, financing by partners need to understand that assistance is required over the whole risk management cycle.
- There is a need for genuine commitment for a combined response to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation to be considered as a key sustainable development imperative. The specific link between the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, the SDGs, the SAMOA Pathway and the Framework for Pacific Regionalism rest on the recognition of the specific vulnerability of SIDS to climate change and disaster risk. Regardless of income level the development of a SIDS can be very quickly reversed by the effects of an extreme hazard risk event which results in a disaster. As a result, the focus should be to build resilience.
- Thank you for your attention.