09 June 2020
A Pacific disaster prevention review
By Paul Barnes
Disaster risk reduction is a global policy issue. Reducing the likelihood and severity of damage and related cascading and cumulative impacts from natural hazards has become central to all nations and has triggered the evolution of international cooperation, multilateral responses and humanitarian aid efforts over many years.
The nexus between natural hazards and vulnerability is central to appreciating the scale of the damage caused by large disasters and resultant sociotechnical impacts. Multilateral efforts to mitigate the impacts of weather and climate hazards have progressed over time. The Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World: Guidelines for Natural Disaster Prevention, Preparedness and Mitigation was a harbinger for the Hyogo Framework for Action, which emphasised building the resilience of communities and nations to the effects of disasters, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as the current flagship of unified effort.
Pacific island countries (PICs) have long been affected by weather-related disasters. Many PICs have been listed among the top 10 most disaster-prone countries in the World Risk Index over several years. In addition to damaging winds a convergence of flash flooding, king tides and high intensity rainfall contributed to damage to essential services, food supply and displacement of people across island economies.
This year marks the fifth year of applying the Sendai Framework to Disaster risk reduction efforts globally - completing one-third of the Framework’s operational life cycle. It seems an opportune time to take stock of the challenges faced by selected PICs in incorporating guidance from the Sendai Framework into policy, legislation and practice.
This report details independent views on challenges to implementing the Sendai Framework in eight Pacific economies. It does not pursue an in-depth analysis of constraints or impediments to implementation of the framework but seeks to present independent views on the ‘fit’ of the Sendai Framework to local needs in a general context of the Four priorities central to the Framework.
It hoped that it can contribute to ongoing discussion and thought about important issues in a vibrant yet vulnerable region.