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Pacific: Lessons learnt from natural disasters and climate change

Display Date: 6/30/15

AUCKLAND, 30 JUNE 2015 (OCHA) ---- More than 140 delegates from across the Pacific are gathering in Auckland this week to discuss the future of humanitarian action in the region.

Co-chaired by Australia, New Zealand and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), this Pacific event is the seventh of eight regional consultations being held in preparation of the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016.

“Humanitarian needs are on the rise around the world and across the Pacific. It is critical that we ensure our humanitarian system remains fit-for-purpose,” said Stephen O’Brien, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

“More people are affected by disasters, more frequently, and for longer than in previous decades. At the same time, humanity is dealing with new challenges, such as climate change – an urgent concern for many low-lying and coastal communities in the Pacific.”

Attendees at the meeting in Auckland include representatives of disaster-affected communities, civil society, governments, UN and international aid agencies, the International Federation for the Red Cross, academia and the private sector in the Pacific.

Ahead of the meeting, extensive consultations were held across the region to identify the priority humanitarian issues to be discussed. More than 1,400 people were consulted in 17 Pacific countries.

Two major disasters impacted the region during the consultation process – Tropical Cyclone Pam and Typhoon Maysak – which caused extensive damage and destruction in many small island nations, including Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

The World Bank estimates that the damage bill from Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and Tuvalu alone will be in excess of half a billion US dollars. “Recent disasters have underscored the importance of using the lessons learned from community resilience and preparedness in the Pacific to shape a new way forward,” said Stephen O’Brien.

“Pacific Island countries and territories suffer average disaster damages of more than US $280 million every year, making this an important economic issue, as well as a humanitarian one for the region.”

The meeting will conclude on 2 July with a set of recommendations to feed into the global process and carry forward in the region.

“The outcomes of this meeting could not be more important for Pacific Islanders who face the very real threat of natural disaster and climate change every day. They deserve the best support and assistance the humanitarian system can provide,” said Sune Gudnitz, OCHA’s Head of Office for the Pacific.






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