Lieutenant Colonel Inia Seruiratu, Fiji’s Minister for Rural & Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Forests, will officially open the 6th Session of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management today at the Novotel Hotel in Suva, Fiji.
The 6th Pacific Platform is co-convened by the Secretariat of Pacific Community (SPC) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
The recent disasters caused by tropical cyclone Ian in Tonga and the major floods in the Solomon Islands have provided the Pacific Islands region with yet more urgent reminders of the critical need to integrate their disaster management and climate change efforts.
Mr Timothy Wilcox, Pacific Coordinator for UNISDR, said the Pacific Platform is the pre-eminent forum in the region for bringing together the disaster risk reduction partners to take stock on how the region is progressing in building more resilient communities.
Mr Mosese Sikivou, the Deputy Director of SPC’s Disaster Reduction Programme said the 6th Pacific Platform provides a unique opportunity for representatives from across the Pacific to work together to support efforts by the next generation of Pacific Islanders to respond to the challenges and risks posed by climate change and disasters.
“The 6th Pacific Platform provides the region with a pivotal opportunity to shape disaster risk and climate change efforts for at least the next 20 years. It will seek to gain recommendation for endorsement for the draft Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development in the Pacific (SRDP). It will also seek support for the development of the Post- 2015 Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction which is to be endorsed at the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Reduction (3WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan in March 2015,” he said.
Mr Sikivou said that, with the development of the SRDP, the Pacific is leading the way globally, as the first region in the world to develop a regional strategy that integrates climate change and disaster risk management, while also nesting these priorities within the context of resilient development.
The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) globally guides countries to reduce the risk of hazards and vulnerabilities to communities and nations through strategic goals and actions. With the HFA nearing completion next year, Mr Wilcox said this is the perfect time to take advantage of the wealth of Pacific expertise and experience to shape the new Post -2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Mr Wilcox also said the Platform will play the critical role in shaping a resilient future for Pacific communities.
“Sustainable growth of the Pacific can happen by linking Pacific priorities to the new sustainable development goals, the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the global climate change agreement by shifting imperative from response to resilience,” he said.
The 6th Pacific Platform hosts representation of international leaders, such as the HE Thani Thongphakdi, Thai Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and HE Kenichi Suganuma, Japanese Ambassador for 3WCDRR, Government of Japan, show that the wider region is looking to the Pacific as leading the integration of climate change and disaster risk management into development practices.
Mr Sikivou, said the 6th Pacific Platform continues efforts to focus on improving resilience of Pacific Island countries and territories in order to reduce the need to focus resources on response efforts after disasters have occurred.
“Our bureaucracies are already constrained and our financial and human resources are being stretched thin on the ground. Pacific Island countries and territories have realised that it makes sense to look for opportunities to integrate our disaster and climate resilience building efforts as ultimately both are about reducing risks to our future development,” he said.
Mr Wilcox announced that as we near the 10 year mark of the HFA, the inaugural Pacific Innovation & Leadership Award for Resilience (PILAR) is being launched by UNISDR at this year’s Platform. “It will recognize innovative Pacific examples of disaster risk reduction initiatives over the last 12 months and the Award will be announced on the evening of Monday 2 June.” He says.
While the 6th Session of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management (2-4 June) will focus on regional and global policy initiatives, the following 20th Regional Disaster Managers Meeting (5-6 June) will look at specific priorities for strengthening Pacific Island countries and territories capacity in disaster preparedness and response.