SIDS link climate change and disaster risk

UNISDR chief, Margareta Wahlstrom with and Mr David Sheppard, SPREP Director General and Talgaloa Cooper Halo, SPREP Climate Change Advisor. SPREP is Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environment Programme and one of our core partners in the region of for the Pacific Regional Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development. (Photo: Timothy Wilcox/UNISDR)
By Brigitte Leoni

APIA, 4 September 2014 - Disaster risk reduction is at the center of a raft of commitments and actions in the outcome document officially adopted today at the conclusion of the four days of the International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa. The outcome document is titled SAMOA – SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action – Pathway.

“I am very happy about the many references made to disaster risk reduction in the SAMOA Pathway. We are making good progress. The Pacific has demonstrated that it has the regional leadership to build the resilience of its islands against more frequent and severe weather-related disasters,” said today Margareta Wahlström.

The Pacific is also discussing a unique Pacific Resilience Strategy that fully integrates disaster risk management and climate change adaptation to build more resilient development. The strategy unites two main Pacific regional bodies: the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), which looks after climate change, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), which focuses on disaster risk management.

The two bodies will now work together with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction to implement the strategy which is considered a model to be replicated in the rest of the world.

The four days of the conference showed how the main leaders of the region are determined and united to defend their islands against what has been described as an existential threat for many of them, climate change.

$1.9 billion has been pledged in sustainable development partnership and the Secretary-General of the International Conference, Wu Hongbo, said 297 partnerships between governments, businesses, civil society and UN entities had been announced during the four days.

“Without a doubt, these partnerships leave a legacy with impact,” Mr. Hongo said. He added that the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) which he heads, will take on the responsibility of reporting on the commitments' progress to hold the participants to account.

The partnerships are in the areas of sustainable economic development, climate change and disaster risk management, social development, sustainable energy, ocean health, and water and sanitation, food security and waste management.

Timothy Wilcox, Head of UNISDR in the Pacific, commented: “The private sector is increasingly recognized as a main actor in delivering climate change solutions and will play a prominent role in the actions that will be implemented by public partners. This is going in the right direction as they will probably get results faster. UNISDR will be working soon on hotel resilience and business continuity plans with Digicel.”

Ms. Wahlstrom said: “The progress made may be too slow for the thousands of people who are already affected by sea-level rise and flooding but the Pacific is not alone. SIDS are supported by the rest of the world and Pacific SIDS now play a prominent and stronger role in the discussions on climate change with the Caribbean. They have more resources even if financing mechanisms are still too complex. Many actions will be soon implemented at national level.”

“The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai in March 2015 and the next Climate Change Conference in 2015 will be critical to advance the SIDS’ national priorities and to make the world safer against disasters including those driven by climate change.”

More than 3,000 participants from 100 countries attended the SIDS conference including most of the Heads of State of the major Pacific islands. The end of the conference begins the countdown to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Climate Summit on 23 September at the UN Headquarters in New York.

To know more about the SAMOA Pathway, please read:

VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018 VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018.
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