Learning from resilience

The Pacific Way is being used by Pacific countries to share their resilience experiences in the face of climate change and the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

This will then be used to make policies and framework to combat a growing problem in the Pacific which is increasing debt levels and contracting economies due to climate change and then the COVID pandemic.

In the last few years Pacific Island countries have continued to suffer extreme economic setbacks whenever disasters hit.

Pacific Islands Forum director programmes and initiatives Zarak Khan said the impacts of climate change have further exacerbated these vulnerabilities.

“The impacts combine physical damage and the related economic and social losses. Statistics like 15 per cent to 30 per cent of GDP impacts are now commonly reflected in the post-disaster assessments of Pacific countries hit by disasters but what is not commonly reflected is the even more devastating development setbacks and the number of years it takes to get back to pre-disaster levels of wellbeing,” he said.

“The recent example of the Hunga Tonga – Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption is a good case in point where damage was estimated at 18.5 per cent  of GDP or US$500 million.”

Stakeholders from various Pacific nations have gathered in Suva to discuss how interested organisations and projects at the regional and national level can be used to drive resilience.

Pacific Islands Forum director programmes and initiatives Zarak Khan said the impacts of climate change have further exacerbated these vulnerabilities. Picture – PIF

Earlier this year organisations working in climate and disaster resilience in the regional space felt that following two years of exclusively virtual interaction, the time was right to create an opportunity to have people come together in-person once again to interact in a truly ‘Pacific way’.

The event is also designed to help Pacific nations find ways to access climate financing as well.

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“We felt that people from around the region would welcome a change where they could sit together and share knowledge and experiences on how we can all improve resilience to climate change and disasters,” said Mr Khan.

“Our leaders have stated many times, climate change is an existential threat and addressing this and other hazards and shocks such as earthquakes and tsunamis, requires, amongst other things, that we continue cultivate a culture of learning and knowledge sharing.

Participants from across the Pacific at the Holiday Inn in Suva. Picture – PIF

“By broadening our knowledge we can generate new ideas and be creative and innovative in terms of how we address resilience moving forward. The complexity of the environment in which we live requires this of us.”

The Resilience Learning Event aims to support a holistic understanding of resilience building, drawing from the experiences and lessons of a range of resilience building activities being undertaken in the Pacific.

The two day event will end with the launch of a special database which can be accessed by anyone to show damage done by climate change.

The funding support for the event has been done by the World Bank through the Pacific Resilience Program.

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