The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR) has released a study on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CAA) in the Pacific, titled “Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the Pacific: an institutional and policy analysis.” The study analyzes the level of integration of DRR and CCA activities across the region.
DRR is the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through analysis and management of their causal factors. It reduces exposure to hazards, lessens the vulnerability of people and assets, and improves management of the land and environment and preparedness for adverse events (UNISDR, 2009).
CAA is defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCCC) as ‘adjustments in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects that moderate harm and exploit beneficial opportunities. This can include: (a) adapting development to gradual changes in average temperature, sea level and precipitation; and (b) reducing and managing the risks associated with more frequent, severe and unpredictable extreme weather events” (UNISDR, 2010).
The 67-page report includes analysis of seven Pacific island countries: the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. The results indicate that despite the low level of integration at the operational level, countries are making efforts to develop Joint National Action Plans for DRR and CCA.
The report says there is strong evidence of an increase in the observed frequency and intensity of weather and climate-related hazards. An assertion buttressed by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change IPCC), which anticipates that in the short to medium term many impacts of climate change may manifest themselves through changes in the frequency, intensity or duration of extreme weather events. Having made these observations, the report makes an urgent call for a paradigm shift in DRR noting that the recent Global Assessment Report on DRR shows that mortality and economic loss risk are heavily concentrated in developing countries, disproportionately affecting the poor and posing a real threat to the achievement of the MDGs.
The report also outlines challenges and barriers to integration, highlights evolving good practice towards integration, and provides recommendations for regional and national stakeholders for further action. Key recommendations include: the establishment and maintenance of a database of DRR, CCA and related projects, and a database of Pacific-focused case studies and good practices; to co-convene meetings on disaster risk management (DRM) and CCA at times and locations that maximize coordination and integration opportunities; to develop an integrated Pacific Regional Policy Framework for DRM, CCA and mitigation for implementation post-2015; and for donors, Pacific island governments, nongovernmental and relevant regional organisations to work collectively and promote greater integration of DRR and CCA.
The study was produced in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), with resources from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Peruse the full report here.