Tackling Climate Change Risk Management In The Pacific
SPREP Director General Kosi Latu (middle) speaking at the meeting from Apia to other stakeholders during the virtual meeting. Photo: SPREP Apia, SAMOA – September 28, 2020: 2.45pm (SPREP): The forecast increase in extreme weather events and slow-onset climate related changes is a huge threat to the ability of the Pacific to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Known as Loss and Damage - when the climate impacts exceed the capacity for countries, communities and ecosystems to adapt – it worries the Pacific island region given what is forecast to come. For Small Island Development States in the Pacific region, building resilience to better cope with the impacts of climate change is among their most important development challenges. These impacts on vulnerable groups as well as the private sector can be particularly severe. Among the sectors most affected are, for example, agriculture, water and food security, sanitation, coastal and marine resources, infrastructure and tourism. Through a Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ)-funded project called “Enhancing action on comprehensive climate change risk management in the Pacific region”, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) was able to undertake work with a team of international and regional experts to assess needs and to analyse options last week. SPREP Director General, Mr Kosi Latu, said, “This work has made tremendous strides since it was first suggested by the then Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, back in 2016. Originally envisaged as a climate change insurance mechanism, the concept has been broadened to other risk management approaches.” “We have also benefitted from having a range of stakeholders contributing to these developments, in that our consultancy team was able to fully understand what was actually needed in the different communities, to react to difference scenarios and climate change impacts,” Mr Latu added. The consultancy team worked on identifying risks that will need to be covered both in terms of specific events and the level of coverage for individuals, communities, nations, and/or the region. By identifying the climate change threats to Pacific island countries, the nature of the insurance-type response most applicable to those threats can be designed. In addition, the team worked on building on existing databases of various current risk management and finance mechanisms available to establish an appropriate means of knowledge management on these issues. Through a two-day virtual meeting convened by SPREP, in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and GIZ, the consultancy team will have the opportunity to present the outcomes of their findings, as well as to discuss and digest the issues, and come up with suggestions for next steps. One of the issues to be discussed includes the key point that Small Island States (SIS) of the Pacific Islands Forum, and other remote, outer-island communities, are often overlooked and mostly underserved by existing climate change risk management initiatives. A recommendation for a specialised focal point that would act as a broker for small island states be established in order to engage with the existing regional institutions and ongoing initiatives in disaster and climate change risk management to be included in the discussions on next steps. This brokerage function will advocate and integrate SIS needs and priorities at the project development phase, with an understanding of technical development and how to leverage research and evaluate suitability for SIS to inform decision making and the implementation of solutions. It will also support knowledge management and straightforward access to climate change risk data, as well as provide support to SIS to weave together existing capabilities to develop and implement comprehensive climate change risk management and financing strategies under a unified framework. At the end of day one of the workshop, participants were invited to provide further comments through an online survey.