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While TC Pam causes damage, Pacific Islands work together to build resilience

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Monday 17 March 2015, Sendai Japan - With Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam dominating world headlines, there has been strong interest in the Pacific Islands at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai Japan.


Showcased at a special Pacific Islands event ‘Building Resilience to Disasters and Climate Change in the Pacific for Sustainable Development’, H.E President of Kiribati, Anote Tong highlighted the devastating impacts in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Republic of Marshall Islands, and Kiribati after Tropical Cyclone Pam.

 



He stressed the importance of bringing climate change and disaster risk management together for the Pacific region noting that category five cyclones in the region have been more frequent over the last 10 years.

“Natural disasters and climate change are inter-related and integrated – they cannot and should not be taken as separate entities, for if we do, we can never fully achieve inclusivity and we can never hope to have sustainable development for reasons that are obvious.”

Labelled as pioneers, the island region is the very first to develop an integrated strategy that brings climate change and disaster risk management together under a regional framework in the context of sustainable development.

 

The regional efforts on integrating climate change and disaster risk management were featured in the Pacific Islands Side Event organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

The event highlighted the need for all stakeholders to work together to address the impacts of climate change and disaster risks in the Pacific region. 

Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon, Siaosi Sovaleni, championed the need to ‘build better now’ as well as ‘build back even better’ after a disastrous event based on experiences, information and lessons learnt in preparation, responding and recovery from a disaster.

The leadership of the Pacific community was commended by the Head of Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources, and Green Economy Unit of the European Union, Mrs Cristiana Pasca Palmer, who acknowledged the extensive consultation for the strategy which has gained buy-in from a broad range of stakeholders especially the private sector.

The important role of civil society in building climate and disaster resilience was highlighted by Mr Setareki Macanawai, Chief Executive Officer and Pacific Disability Forum. He also acknowledged the importance of consideration of ‘vulnerable groups’, which should be identified as ‘valuable groups’.

The global context for the work being undertaken in the Pacific was outlined by Dr. Kazuo Matsushita Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University, and Senior Fellow, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) who pointed out that the efforts of the Pacific are in line with global trends.

The Side Event was sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and was moderated by Cristelle Pratt, Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat. The discussion panel included the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister for Tonga, Siaosi Sovaleni; Mrs Cristiana Pasca Palmer, Head of Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources, and Green Economy Unit of the European Union; Inangaro Vakaafi, Vice Chair Person, Pacific Youth Council; Mr Setareki Macanawai, Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Disability Forum; Ms Filomena Nelson, National Disaster Management Office, Government of Samoa; and Mr Kosi Latu, Deputy Director General, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

The SRDP is currently going through the endorsement process at the Pacific regional level. The final step along this process will be the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in 2015.

The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction runs from 14-18 March 2015.  Following this, the Pacific Island leaders will participate at the PALM 7 in Iwaki City, Fukushima in May 2015.

For more information, contact: Clare White, Disaster Risk Management Communications Officer, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (Tel: +679 9165794, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ); Nanette Woonton, Media and Public Relations Officer, Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environment Programme (Tel: +685 21929; email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 June 2015 10:43  

Newsflash

Monday 17 June 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) –  The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), with Geoscience Australia, has developed a computer model to help the Government of Tonga see what the impact of a tsunami would be on Tongatapu. Part of an AusAID funded project, the model makes use of high resolution data, the collection of which was made possible by Australia, the European Union, and the New Zealand Ocean Sciences Grant.

The new Tsunami Inundation Model shows that an 8.7 magnitude earthquake in the Tonga Trench would create a wave that would hit the eastern coast of Tongatapu within ten to twenty minutes, inundating most of Nuku’alofa.  Leveni ‘Aho, Director of Tonga’s National Disaster Management Office, says the new computer model has enabled the Government of Tonga to consider how the public would need to respond in a range of possible scenarios.

‘Nuku’alofa has, perhaps, the biggest urban population in the Pacific living in a very low-lying area. We can talk about Japan’s earthquakes but if we can present something that shows what is going to happen to us here at home, the message is much more effective.  For us, it’s an excellent opportunity to help communities to be aware of what could possibly come and what they will need to do if a significant event occurs,’ he says.

After the model was presented to the cabinet and the National Emergency Management Committee, the Hon. Prime Minister Lord Tuʻivakanō indicated that the government would need support to construct access ways to some parts of Nuku’alofa so that the local community can quickly get to safe areas.

Mr ‘Aho says the model is also helping the Government of Tonga to design emergency response measures and improve long-term urban planning for Nuku’alofa and its surrounding villages.‘The tsunami computer model given by SPC has provided the government with a wonderful tool to help us really understand the risks of different scenarios and to prepare in the best ways we can,’ he says.

Mosese Sikivou, Deputy Director of SPC’s Disaster Reduction Programme, says this project is part of SPC’s assistance to Tonga in connection with its Joint National Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management, approved by Cabinet in July 2010. The work to develop the model is part of an integrated approach that SPC and other partners are taking right across the Pacific to try and maximise scarce resources and minimise duplication of effort and potential conflict in policy development.