Australia is working more closely than ever with the Pacific on issues of greatest concern to them, including climate change. As part of our commitment to the region, we have committed $300 million from 2016 to 2020 to take action on climate change and build disaster resilience. This includes dedicated aid initiatives aimed at strengthening resilience, as well as a comprehensive effort to integrate climate change and disaster resilience into all areas of the aid program in the Pacific.
Australia remains committed to global climate action under the Paris Agreement, with a target to reduce emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Australia’s dedicated climate change and disaster resilience initiatives
- The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific ($26 million, 2017-2022) is supporting 14 Pacific meteorological services to monitor, analyse and communicate information about climate and oceans, including seasonal forecasts and sea level rise. Information on rainfall and tides helps communities, sectors (like agriculture, health and fisheries) and governments to make decisions and prepare for the season ahead.
- The Pacific Resilience and Governance Program ($10 million, 2019-2022) is working to integrate climate and disaster risks in Pacific national and sub-national plans and policies. The program has supported national climate change advisers to develop policies across a range of sectors. For example, in Vanuatu, it has worked with agricultural policymakers to support the trial of resilient crops. The program has worked with Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, and is now expanding to other countries.
- The Australian Humanitarian Partnership’s Disaster READY program ($50 million, 2018-2022) is supporting national actors, communities and organisations in four Pacific island countries to prepare for, and reduce the risk of, disasters. Working with six Australian NGOs and local partners, the program is supporting over 100 communities to map risks, establish disaster committees and develop inclusive disaster plans.
- The Australian Red Cross Partnership ($28 million, 2015-2020) is working with national Red Cross societies to build their capacity to provide life-saving assistance to communities in the Pacific. This includes collecting data on disaster risk, raising community awareness and investing in early warning initiatives. We will launch a new five-year partnership with the Australian Red Cross in late 2019.
In addition to supporting work on disaster resilience and preparedness, Australia plays an important role in supporting Pacific island countries to respond to, and recover from, disasters. In Fiji, following Cyclone Winston in 2016, Australia provided $20 million for recovery and reconstruction efforts to ‘build back better’. This included assistance to repair or rebuild 39 damaged schools. Newly constructed buildings meet or exceed Fiji’s National Building Code, with one building in each school able to withstand Category 5 wind speeds.
Integrating climate change and disaster resilience in the aid program
Australia’s aid investments are effectively managing climate and disaster risks and delivering resilient growth in the region. This support is built into many sectors and programs, including the ones below.
Women’s economic development
In the Solomon Islands, Australia has supported an upgrade of the Gizo Market. The new market is designed to withstand wind speeds of a Category 5 cyclone and is built above projected sea level rise. The market also includes sustainable water supplies and sanitation facilities, ramps for disability access and an affordable, secure clean energy supply. Even in the face of a disaster, the market is equipped to enable producers to get back on their feet quickly.
Australia contributed $6.7 million to the Outer Island Renewable Energy Project to increase the reliability, efficiency and affordability of power on Tonga’s outer islands. The network upgrade faced its first serious test in February 2018 when Cyclone Gita devastated the country’s infrastructure. On ‘Eua island, a complete recovery of all systems took two weeks compared to five weeks on the main island, Tongatapu. Rehabilitating the power grid and using renewable energy sources contributed to a significantly faster recovery on ‘Eua.
Australia is working with the Marshall Islands to establish an integrated water supply and sanitation system on the island of Ebeye. The project is building climate resilience by strengthening a water supply network threatened by rising sea levels, and is an important investment in improving health, social and economic outcomes for Ebeye residents. Australia’s contribution is valued at US$4 million over six years to 2021.
The Vanuatu Skills Partnership ($15 million, 2016-2020) is supporting ni-Vanuatu to strengthen their resilience in a changing climate through climate-informed training in the tourism, agribusiness, handicraft and construction sectors. There are also specific training courses in priority areas, like helping tour and bungalow operators develop disaster action plans and access renewable energy.
The Kiribati Education Improvement Program ($35 million, 2011-2019) is making sure schools have raised floors and protective seawalls to reduce coastal flooding, that school facilities are built using sustainable materials, and that children have access to secure freshwater supplies.