Bakhodir Burkhanov: Regional Disaster Resilience in the Pacific SIDS Workshop

Mar 13, 2017

Chief Guest Mr. Paul Bayly (Permanent Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport),

Directors Meteorology and NDMOs in the Pacific,

Workshop participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First, allow me to welcome you all to this 3 day Workshop and Meeting organised by the Disaster Resilience in the Pacific SIDS or commonly known as the RESPAC project. For the benefit of those that were not with us during the inaugural board meeting in Nadi last year, the RESPAC project is funded under the Trust Fund for Development, a joint partnership by UNDP and the Government of the Russian Federation. RESPAC is a 3 year undertaking with a total budget of USD7.5m and has three main components or using standard UNDP terminology, “Outputs”. 

The first component which is also the main topic of Day 1 of this workshop is Enhancing capacity for Climate Based Early Warning System in the Pacific. The other 2 components mainly the Enhancing Disaster Preparedness and Recovery and piloting innovative and new methods for Disaster Risk Financing will also be discussed in the second day of the workshop particularly in terms of how these link with Climate Data.

The primary theme of this workshop is around maintaining and enhancing the accuracy of the climate observation networks so that they are able to accurately disseminate data relating to climate variables. To this end, the training portion of the 3 day workshop will aim to continue the discussions that we started in Nadi last year in Nadi on how the RESPAC can support Met Offices to maintain and upgrade their climate observation networks so that the data recorded from these observation sites can be used for meaningful analysis on weather and climate patterns and provide advance or early warning signals to our people as well as decision makers within government and the wider economy. Over the past few years, most Pacific Islands have benefitted from the generous funding provided under the global programmes (such as the GEF and the Adaptation Fund) to upgrade their climate observation networks.

As one of the implementing agents of the GEF, UNDP has helped secure millions of dollars of funding to the PICS in helping to address some of the capacity constraints particularly relating to climate monitoring. However, in order to effectively address some of the consequences of climate change, simple investments in equipment and infrastructure need to be coupled with other investments in capacity building and training of our people so that it creates sustainability and lays the foundation for the benefit of our future generations and from which they can build and adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

The recent IPCC synthesis report for policy makers states and I quote: ”Effective decision-making to limit climate change and its effects can be informed by a wide range of analytical approaches for evaluating expected risks and benefits, recognizing the importance of governance, ethical dimensions, equity, value judgments, economic assessments and diverse perceptions and responses to risk and uncertainty”. End quote. If we are to adapt some of the findings of the report to the Pacific context one of the first points that has been made abundantly clear is that Pacific Island Nations, while amongst the least emitters of Carbon Di-Oxide and Green House Gases, will also be amongst the first regions in the world to experience some of the negative consequences of climate change.

Hence, in terms of building resilience and ensuring that we have the right data to inform policy decisions, investments in maintaining and innovation around climate observation networks is not only critical but I dare say; the only viable option that we have to ensure that our people have most up to date data to support mitigation and adaptation efforts. 

Day 2 of this workshop will be looking at how climate data can be used across different sectors and in particular to address preparedness and recovery efforts. Climate data can also influence innovative means to support disaster recovery financing and this is an area which the RESPAC working together with the UNDP/UNCDF project on Financial Inclusion will aim to support through working with insurance providers and other policy makers.

Finally, on Day 3, we will be meeting with some of our counterparts in the region to synchronize our work around Early Warning Systems and approve the Annual Workplan for the RESPAC Project in a Board meeting that will take place on Wednesday afternoon.

I wish you all the best in this workshop and less if I forget, I must thank JICA, NIWA, the Fiji Meteorological Services and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport for providing this training venue without any cost. This is an excellent gesture from Mr. Bayly and his staff and I am sure we all can pool our resources in similar manner to ensure maximum impact and benefits to those attending and participating under the RESPAC project.

Vinaka Vaka Levu.

*Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov is UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji's Country Director and Head of Pacific Regional Policy and Programme.

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