We have endured disasters on a recurring basis since the first navigators to this region explored and settled our sea of islands. Now, that endurance is being further tested as climate change exacerbates storms, flooding and other hazards that are harsher, more frequent and less predictable. Climate change impacts and natural disasters have destroyed lives and livelihoods across our Blue Pacific continent and has reset the clock on decades of hard-fought development gains in nation building.
Marginalised people in vulnerable communities have no doubt fared the worst. Women, children, the elderly and the disabled especially continue to be disproportionately affected. In 2015, Cyclone Pam left a trail of destruction in Vanuatu—with economic losses estimated at 64% of its gross domestic product. A generation of development gain, built up over decades of progress, was decimated in a matter of hours. In 2016, Cyclone Winston wreaked havoc in the Fiji Islands, with the resulting economic cost estimated at one third of the country’s gross domestic product. This phenomenon was repeated in Tonga in 2018, when Cyclone Gita caused untold destruction….