Heads of Government departments, NGO representatives and the private sector based in Fiji’s Western Division, met in Nadi earlier this week, to strategise ways to effectively streamline climate change and disaster risk management (CCDRM) considerations across all their divisional development plans.
A first of its kind for Fiji and the region, the forum provided a platform for all stakeholders to coordinate to ensure that development occurs in a way that is sensitive to disasters and climate change. Without taking these risks into account in development, disasters and climate change impacts can wipe away important investments such as water and electricity infrastructure, businesses, health centres and schools. Without essential services people’s lives, health and livelihoods are even more at risk, after a disaster.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, Commissioner Western, Manasa Tagicakibau, stressed the importance for all stakeholders to understand the cross-cutting nature of climate change and its associated impacts to reduce risk.
“We all know that when disaster strikes, it does not discriminate. This forum recognizes that for better preparedness, an inclusive, coordinated and collaborative approach is needed for an effective, holistic and practical action towards integrating CCDRM in all divisional development planning processes, said Mr. Tagicakibau.
“Through this forum, we also aim to highlight the significance of risk-sensitive development planning by examining the Division’s best practices experienced over the years, as this will further strengthen Government’s policies and programmes in the Division and reduce infrastructure and other sectorial damages through improved planning.”
“Increased risks and associated economic loss from previous development initiatives because of the impacts of climate change and the related increased frequency and intensity of natural hazards has made integration for CCDRM a critical component in development planning.”
“Poor planning and development puts the costs for recovery back to Government. However, if planning is done right from the onset, we can reduce our vulnerability to natural hazards,” he added.
Chief Guest at the three day forum, UNDP’s Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP) Manager, Moortaza Jiwanji, challenged participants to put people at the heart of their discussions.
“Ultimately, our target audience are people and I would like to acknowledge the Commissioner and his team for leading the way,” Mr. Jiwanji said.
“Our communities are built upon people with a diversity of needs, therefore this process needs to be as inclusive as possible. Inclusive of people living with disabilities, by gender, by age, by access to resources and so forth.”
“This forum is not just a first for Fiji, it is potentially an endeavour that can set a trend in the region,” he added.
“UNDP and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) are very humbled to be part of this process and very excited about the outcome of this forum,” he added.
The outcome of this forum will be integrated into the Division’s 2014 – 2020 development plan.
Sectors represented at the forum include; Ministry of Agriculture, Rural, Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Ministry of Education, water, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Ministry of Finance and Strategic Planning, Ministry of Health and Public Services, Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Immigration, National Security and Defence, Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, Ministry of Local Government, Environment, Infrastructure and Transport, I-Taukei Affairs, I-Taukei Land Trust, Ministry of I-Taukei Affairs, Ministry of Sugar, Ministry of Finance and Strategic Planning.
The forum is organized by the Commissioner Western’s Office and facilitated in partnership between the UNDP’s Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP), Live and Learn Environmental Education (LLEE) and the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PACE-SD) with support from the Australian Government through DFAT.
PRRP works with Pacific Island nations and their people to consider the risks they face from climate change and disasters and include those risks in their routine plans for development. Communities can become more resilient to climate change and disasters if the usual routine of government, community and other planning takes these risks into account. This risk governance approach is delivered through a partnership between UNDP and international non-government organization Live & Learn Environmental Education and supported by the Australian Government. PRRP is being delivered in four countries: Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.