Suva, Fiji – The Pacific region continues to lead the way in efforts to make development more resilient to climate change and disasters. In the first meeting of the newly established Pacific Resilience Platform, climate change, disaster management and development practitioners met recently in Suva, Fiji to operationalise the new regional framework for resilient development.
Adopted by Pacific Leaders in 2016, the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP) is the first regional integrated strategy for climate change and disaster risk management in the world, including a strong focus on linking these areas of work to sustainable development.
A key outcome highlighted in the meeting is the crucial role that development actors, from national finance and planning ministries to local level government, play in mainstreaming disaster and climate-related risk into planning, budgeting and decision-making processes.
First Secretary for Regional Development at the Australian High Commission in Fiji, Ray Bojczuk said, “If development is not risk informed, it will undermine resilience. Development can contribute positively or negatively to resilience, depending on whether it is risk-informed.”
Participants at the platform also emphasised that engaging existing governance structures and increasing the capacity of development actors to lead mainstreaming ‘from within’ development systems is important to improve resilience.
“We not only need to build back better after a disaster, it is about building better in the first place,” said Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Officer for Ha’apai Island group in Tonga, Luisa Tuanga.
Luisa presented on her experiences of playing a bridging role between disaster preparedness and ongoing development in an island context.
She added, “Local level decisions are key to achieving resilience. We need to work through existing local structures to give messages about the need for more informed decision making”.
Participants also emphasised that the human dimensions of risk are central to increasing resilience for all.
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in Fiji, Dr. Josefa Koroivueta said, “It is imperative that the needs of all members of society are considered so that development, climate change and disaster projects leave no one behind and do no harm.”
Safeguarding development across the Pacific region is a large and ambitious task and for this reason, “No one agency will implement this framework alone,” said Economic Infrastructure Advisor for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Scott Hook.
Adding to this, Commissioner of the Northern Division in Fiji at the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development, Jovesa Vocea said, “Not only are partnerships crucial for response, they also extend to ensuring that development planning is resilient. Private sector networks and partnerships are a key ingredient.”
These insights were shared at the Risk Governance, Effective Partnerships, Local Government and Private Sector sessions at the Pacific Resilience Week. Participants shared experiences based on the work of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji’s Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP) that is supported by the Australian Government. The overall platform meeting was organised through collaboration between the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Pacific Community, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
The event took place on the 4th to the 5th of October 2017.