The long view: Dr Jimmie Rodgers is looking 50 years ahead to secure the future for youngsters such as these in Nagando Village, Fiji. (Photo: Sean Hobbs/Secretariat of the Pacific Community)
By Andy McElroy
GENEVA, 15 August 2013 –
World-leading efforts to unite climate change adaptation and disaster risk management into one overarching strategy will provide ‘more bang for your buck’ a senior Pacific development leader says.
The Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Dr Jimmie Rodgers, said future generations would judge today’s leaders on how bold their actions – not words – were in building safer and more resilient communities and countries.
“To a large extent climate change adaptation and disaster risk management are two sides of the same coin,” Dr Rodgers said. “They may use different names and terminology but they basically address the same issues and deliver the same outcomes.
“So adopting a truly unified approach not only makes sense in terms of getting more ‘bang for your buck’; it also raises the profile of ‘managing risks’ as a cornerstone of sustainable development.
“It is important to note that the Pacific islands region leads the world in the thinking and actual work on integrating climate change and disaster risk management – a legacy that is worth leaving behind.
“What kind of a region do we wish to see in 50 years when our populations double, when we have fewer resources? Answers to questions such as these will help us decide the most appropriate course of actions.”
Dr Rodgers emphasized the importance of a holistic approach to resilience at the community level and that overlooking the importance of health would be “catastrophic”.
“In the Pacific, we don’t need a disaster to make us vulnerable because we already are,” Dr Rodgers said. “Non-communicable diseases could kill many, many more people than disasters in the next 10 years so we really have to have an inclusive approach to all risks that builds overall resilience to secure a healthy and safe future.”
Dr Rodgers was one of the keynote speakers at last month’s 2013 Joint Meeting of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Nadi, Fiji. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community was a co-convenor of the conference.