Navua, Fiji – In the spirit of regionalism, the Directors of National Disaster Management in the region have solidified their commitment to working together to restrain the spread of COVID-19 in the Pacific.
The ‘Statement of Intent - COVID 19’ delivered at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Disaster Resilience for Pacific SIDS (RESPAC) 5th Board meeting held, at Pacific Harbour on 18 March 2020 stated the “Global risk assessment on Covid-19 has been declared as very high alert status, it is only appropriate to take definitive steps in mapping out clear strategies for our shared future.”
The National Management Directors said they are “being mindful of the wide-ranging economy-wide implications on government machinery, industry, livelihoods, culture, traditions and households impacted by COVID-19, and there is an urgency to be vigilant about individual safety, well-being and stability of lives of the public at large in our communities.”
The Statement of Intent is responsive to the seven recommendations of the ‘Bangkok Principles for the International Conference on the Implementation of the Health Aspects of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
“The Hon. Prime Minister announced Fiji’s level of alertness and pledging commitment to arrest the spread of COVID-19, whilst countries around the region have intensified efforts, it is my hope that we can collectively work as one in the spirit of regionalism with duty of care to our people,” said the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Disaster Management and Meteorological Services, Honourable Jone Usamate at the official opening.
Hon. Usamate also stated, “On behalf of my Prime Minister, I take this opportunity to register our appreciation on the work done on Early Warning Systems, capacity-building and supplementation, systems upgrade and improving functionality of both the MET Office and NDMO in Fiji.
"On-going intervention of the RESPAC Project have been quite visible across the region and have greatly enhanced quality deliverables through targeted interventions. Thank you to UNDP for your continuing commitment and support to the region’s development aspirations.”
“UNDP remains one of our most important and strategic partners in promotion of development. Many of the key activities of UNDP, as defined by the Strategic plan of this Organization, are among the priorities of the Russian International Development Assistance. The Russian Federation traditionally supports UNDP efforts to combat poverty, sustain economic growth, create jobs, and provide access to basic services and infrastructure,” said the First Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Australia, Ruslan Arutyunov.
The Chair of the 2020 RESPAC Board meeting and UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Deputy Resident Representative, Karin Takeuchi stated, the region has been confronted with changing times and issues never thought to exist 20-30 years ago, challenging development, sustainability, livelihood and survival. Takeuchi thanked RESPAC partners and their governments for their leadership to facilitate sustainable and resilient development in the Pacific region and called for strengthened co-operation with governments and CROP agencies.
In addition to the Statement of Intent, RESPAC board members discussed the project 2019 Annual Report, the Annual Work Plan for 2020 and the Results Resources Framework.
The meeting brought together RESPAC keystakeholders from National Meteorology and Hydrology Services (NMHS) and National Disaster Management Directors from eight out 14 of the Pacific Small Island Developing states. RESPAC implements activities in Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Vanuatu, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Marshall Islands, Niue, Tonga and in one territory Tokelau.
“RESPAC has made a huge impact in the region in terms of Early Warning and Disaster Risk Reduction. Especially in reaching out to the smaller islands and territories and making sure no one is left behind. Many Regional projects usually try to address issues that are common among regional member and so usually country specific challenges are often ignored. This, I think has been the greatest strength of RESPAC, working within the Meteorology and Disaster Management Community regionally to ensure that country specific challenges are addressed. And we are extremely grateful for that,” said Mr Ofa Fa’anunu on behalf of the beneficiaries in the Pacific.
Also present were representatives of the University of the South Pacific (USP), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction.
Funded by the Russian Federation, the overall objective of RESPAC is to improve capacity of 14 Pacific SIDs focused on three components, Strengthened early warning systems and climate monitoring capacity in selected PICS; Preparedness and planning mechanisms and tools to manage disaster recovery processes strengthened at regional, national and local level; and Increased use of financial instruments to manage and share disaster related risk and fund post disaster recovery efforts.
RESPAC activities are in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #13 “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”
For more information, please contact:
Andrea Waqa - Montu, RESPAC Communications Specialist, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org