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Australia’s commitment to strengthening climate and disaster resilience in the Pacific - North Pacific

Australia is supporting Pacific governments, businesses and communities to strengthen climate change and disaster resilience. At the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum, Australia pledged to spend $500 million over five years to strengthen resilience in the Pacific from 2020. This builds on the commitment to spend $300 million over four years from 2016.

Australia is committed to working in partnership with the people of the North Pacific to increase climate change action and disaster resilience across the region. We are integrating climate change and disaster resilience across the aid program in the North Pacific, including in our water and sanitation programs.

  • Access to clean drinking water in the North Pacific is already challenging, and as sea levels rise and storm surge increases, fresh water is more likely to be polluted. Australia is helping the Marshall Islands Government ensure the security of freshwater supplies and adequate sanitation.
  • Climate change is making tropical storms stronger. Micronesia and the region are experiencing more extreme events like 2015's Typhoon Maysak, which affected 30,000 people, nearly a third of the population. Australia is helping strengthen the ability of the region's national meteorological services to provide early warnings for extreme weather events to help protect lives and livelihoods.
  • As climate change impacts escalate, the North Pacific will require significant external support to implement priority adaptation actions, like protecting coastal zones and safeguarding water supplies. Australia has helped increase children's understanding of climate change and disaster risk reduction to help build the skills they will need to adapt as impacts escalate.
  • Each year, on average, disasters cost the Marshall Islands around US$3 million, or 1.7% of GDP, and cause loss of life, disruption to communities and damage critical infrastructure. Australia is prioritising local-level adaptation and disaster risk reduction activities to help build community resilience.

The Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Republic of Palau are all highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The countries are susceptible to tropical cyclones, extreme rainfall, coastal erosion, drought, food and water insecurity, heat, storm surge, increased acidity of ocean waters and sea level rise.

Australia's programs

Australia has provided approximately $0.6 million in bilateral climate change and disaster resilience support to the countries of the North Pacific since 2016. This support is built into a range programs, including the ones below.

  • The Australian Government is supporting improvements to the water and sanitation system on Ebeye Island in the Marshall Islands. The Ebeye Water and Sanitation Project ($5.3 million, 2015-2022) helps ensure people have access to fresh water even in times of disaster and are less likely to get sick due to inadequate sewerage systems.
  • The Australian Government prioritises support to community grants that focus on climate change adaptation, resilience and disaster preparedness through the Direct Aid Program in each country.
  • Through the Climate Adaptation, Disaster Reduction and Education Program ($3.6 million, 2012-2016), Australia helped develop climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction education programs for 10,000 children in 50 schools across Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of the Marshall Islands. The program also helped increase broad understanding of climate change in 50 communities.

Regional and global programs

Australia's regional programs are changing the way people manage the impacts of climate change and disasters. Under the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership, Australia's aid program is supporting Pacific island governments to build resilience and shift to low-carbon development by investing in climate-and-disaster-informed education, health, infrastructure, energy, and food and water security.

The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 ($23.3 million, 2018-2022) works with National Meteorological Services in the North Pacific to provide seasonal forecasts that help farmers plan for harvesting, and weather warnings to alert people about disasters.

The Pacific Resilience and Governance Program ($10 million, 2019-2022) supports governments across the region to include climate change and disaster risk factors in their planning, budgeting and implementation to ensure they are building resilience into government initiatives across a range of sectors.

Last Updated: 14 October 2019
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