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Pacific a focus area for global risk governance study

26 March 2015

A new global disaster risk governance study has identified the Pacific as a priority area.

Launched at the recent World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the report includes a focus on two Pacific countries: Vanuatu, which is responding to devastating Tropical Cyclone Pam, and Solomon Islands that experienced a destructive flash flood event last year.

The report acknowledges the UNDP-led Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP), supported by the Australian Government, which works with these nations to integrate climate change and disaster risk management considerations into national and sub-national governance structures and planning processes.

International disaster risk specialist Alexandra Galperin is a lead author of the report Strengthening Disaster Risk Governance: UNDP Support during the HFA (Hyogo Framework) Implementation Period 2005-2015.

Ms Galperin, who has more than 20 years disaster risk reduction experience and has also provided advice to the PRRP on risk governance issues, commented that PRRP is one of the few programmes that truly integrates climate change and disaster risk reduction directly into government and community structures.

“It’s interesting from a disaster risk reduction perspective, because there’s a significant degree of risk from both climate change and natural hazards that are converging.

“These issues are quite important and there’s an increasing degree of sensitivity and awareness and willingness to act on that,” she said.

“It’s not an easy subject to bring to the forefront of national and local governments for many reasons, so we’re looking at progress and looking at trying to get risk reduction integrated into development decision-making processes,” she said, adding this was a “big challenge.”

Ms Galperin said the report aims to capture UNDP’s experience in taking disaster risk reduction to the local level, and how it has affected people’s lives.

“It is important to make sure governments are in a position to lead and coordinate risk reduction efforts,” she said, noting that this issue is addressed in the report.

The report, which investigates disaster risk governance work across 17 countries, was prepared for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), held in Japan from 14 to 18 March 2015.

PRRP was also mentioned at the global conference’s high-level panel event on 16 March. Panelists included UNDP Administrator, and former New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and the Solomon Islands Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Disaster Management, Melchior Mataki, who both referenced the work of PRRP.

PRRP works with Pacific Island nations and their people to think about the risks they may face from climate change and disasters when they are making their usual plans for development. Communities can become more resilient to climate change and disasters if routine government, community and other planning takes these risks into account.

This risk governance approach is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and international non-governmental organization Live and Learn Environmental Education (LLEE) and supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). PRRP is being delivered in four countries: Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.



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