Pacific urged to lead against complacency
SUVA, 26 October 2015 – The Pacific region today was urged to use its respected voice on the global stage to rally against complacency over the mounting level of disaster and climate related risk.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Ms. Margareta Wahlström, said the Pacific needed to maintain the influence “that has contributed to the significant progress of the global community made over the past 10 years” in disaster risk reduction.
“You have gained an extremely strong voice in the international community and you need to continue to use that so the world maintains its sense of urgency and focus. Complacency is the worst enemy,” Ms. Wahlström said.
She was speaking at the opening of the 2015 Pacific Regional Disaster Resilience Meeting. The gathering of more than 200 senior representatives from various national and local government sectors as well as civil society, the private sector, academia, and development organizations is examining how to implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Ms. Wahlström said the Pacific’s track record of building disaster resilience over the last decade is an inspiration to other regions as they embark on implementing the Sendai Framework, a 15-year global blueprint to substantially reduce disaster losses and risk, adopted this year at the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan.
“To mention just a few of your successes, there are now 14 Pacific nations with national action plans for DRR, of which half integrate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, namely, in ‘Joint National Action Plans’,” Ms. Wahlström said.
“Fourteen Pacific nations have completed Tsunami National Capacity Assessments. Fifteen National Risk Profiles have been completed under the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative. These provide disaster risk modelling and assessment tools to better understand, model, and assess each country’s exposure to natural disasters.”
Fiji’s Acting Permanent Secretary for Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Mr. Setareki Tale, said the Pacific needed to do even more because “climate change is now the new normal”.
“It will mean extreme intensities and high frequencies of hydro-meteorological hazards. A step up in response and risk reduction is inevitable for survival if we are to manage the changing face of these calamities,” Mr.Tale said.
“For most, if not all, Pacific countries, the Sendai Framework will be another testing instrument for our resolve to strengthen disaster risk reduction and how to effectively respond to disasters.”
Mr. Tale said Fiji had taken a number of steps to strengthen disaster resilience this year, including: the adoption of a Green Growth Framework policy; an increased budget for mitigation; and stronger partnerships with local communities on a variety of initiatives.
“We expect more partnerships in years to come. Our grassroots are neither ignorant nor oblivious as they themselves have seen the impact of Mother Nature on their doorsteps. They are now planning and working with Government for the benefit of a safer environment and sustainable future.”
The 2015 Pacific Regional Disaster Resilience Meeting is organized by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). It kicks off a week-long series of forums related to the sustainable development agenda, including the Pacific Humanitarian Partnership Meeting and the Regional Steering Committee for the Building of Safety and Resilience in the Pacific.