Data, skills and a ‘shared vision’ needed to better manage risk

Cyclone Pam aftermath. File photo

The Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat says to better manage risk, access to robust and contextualised data that can be used to make decisions is needed.

Speaking at this week’s conference on disaster risk reduction in Indonesia, Dr  Filimon Manoni says Pacific Island countries have led on integration of climate change and disaster risk approaches for more than ten years. The gap between these sectors has been a constant theme of the conference. But Dr Manoni cited the development of joint action plans by Tonga, Cook Islands and Marshall Islands, national and sub-national planning in Federated States of Micronesia, and the setting up of a National Advisory Board bringing together this work in Vanuatu, as examples of integration.

Dr Manoni also identified new tools such as development of a climate budget tracking tool in Fiji, the creation of a government division in Tonga to co-lead resilience efforts, and the formation of a unit in Solomon Islands to coordinate climate change finance and disaster finance efforts, as part of integration efforts.

But he says the challenge now is how to maintain consistency.

“There continues to be institutional and capacity issues. Our governments are challenged to retain skilled staff and the turnover can be significant resulting in loss of critical institutional memory. On another level the continued siloed nature of global climate change and disaster risk discourse translates to duplication of actions at the national level which our capacity constrained bureaucracies are challenged to coordinate and manage. The separate efforts to develop national climate change policies and plans and as well disaster risk reduction plans, is a good example.”

He says the Pacific Resilience Partnership has led to noticeable improvements in coordinating resilience building initiatives, for example in the areas of financial protection against disasters, and the development of Pacific Resilience Standards.

Dr Manoni has called for continued examination and adaptation of systems to improve efficiencies, “so the burden of sustainability is easier to bear.”

Finally, he says the Pacific needs a “shared vision of resilience that is owned by all and is backed with political will at the highest level.”

“We want our leaders to have a clear understanding of what we can address better and then challenge us to do better,” he concluded.