Fiji - Australia’s commitment to strengthening climate and disaster resilience in the Pacific
At the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum, Australia pledged to spend $500 million over five years (2020-2025) to strengthen climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific. This builds on Australia’s strong support for Pacific climate and disaster resilience, and success in exceeding a 2016 commitment to spend $300 million over four years (2016-2020). Australia is committed to working in partnership with the Government of Fiji to meet the needs and aspirations of its people to build resilience to climate change and disaster events.
Climate change and disaster impacts in Fiji
Fiji is highly vulnerable to climate and disaster impacts, particularly cyclones, storm surge, flooding and drought. These climate-related hazards are projected to intensify over time.
- Fiji and the region will experience more intense cyclones like Tropical Cyclone Winston (2016), Gita (2018), Harold (2020) and Yasa (2020), which caused extensive costly damage. Australia has helped Fiji prepare for future cyclones, including by ensuring school buildings and markets are more resilient.
- Over the past 16 years, cyclones and floods have caused over US$500 million in losses to Fiji’s agriculture sector. As climate change escalates, impacts could compromise the country’s food security. Australia is supporting Fijian farmers to better understand the risks and take action to ensure that their crops thrive in a changing climate.
- On average, disasters cost Fiji around $100 million, or 2.6 percent of GDP each year in damage to critical infrastructure, together with an unquantifiable cost in loss of life and disruption to communities. Australia is helping increase community resilience by building capacity in civil society and government organisations to prepare for and reduce the risks of disasters.
Australia has provided approximately $16.3 million in bilateral climate change and disaster resilience support to Fiji since 2016. This support is built into many programs, including in the infrastructure, education, private sector development, governance and community sectors.
- Australia is working in partnership with the Fijian government and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Fiji Partnership ($1.7 million 2016-2020 in climate and disaster finance of $14.3 million 2016-21 project total). The partnership includes delivering affordable, resilient social housing across six locations, benefiting up to 100,000 Fijians. The housing designs are informed by detailed site assessments of sea-level rise to mitigate the risk to vulnerable Fijians in low-lying coastal areas.
- The Fiji Program Support Facility’s Preparedness and Response Fund ($1.1 million 2016-2020 in climate and disaster finance of $3.5 million 2016-22 project total) is building local capacity to respond to emergencies, including through upgrades to the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) and training for first responders.
- Through the We Rise program (We Rise 3) and the Fiji Women’s Fund, funding provided to FemLINK established the Women’s Weather Watch Network and supported the Rural Women Leaders Community Media Network (RWLCMN) to help connect women in rural Fiji. The project enabled disaster preparedness plans as well as media systems to apply gender inclusive response approaches.
Regional and global programs
A range of regional and global climate change investments are working directly to build climate change and disaster resilience in Fiji, including:
- The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 (COSPPac) ($23.3 million, 2018-2022) supports the Fiji Meteorological Service to provide climate and ocean monitoring and prediction services. Climate predictions help farmers plan for planting and harvesting, and Pacific island countriesto prepare for disasters like droughts and tropical cyclones. Ocean predictions (tide, currents, wind and waves) support fishing, tourism and shipping.
- The Governance for Resilient Development in the Pacific Program (Gov4Res) (Australian contribution $10.4 million, 2019-2022) supports governments across the region to include climate change and disaster risk factors in their planning, budgeting and implementation. In Fiji, this will involve embedding staff specialised in risk-informed development into the Ministries of Economy and Rural and Maritime Development.
- Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development support to the Shifting the Power Coalition ($3 million, 2018-2020) is enabling diverse women leaders to engage in disaster planning, response and coordination, have greater influence in decision making, and document the unique needs and capacities of women and girls in times of disaster.
- Through the Markets for Change program implemented by UN Women and the UNDP, Australia enabled Raki Raki markets in Fiji to be built to Category 5 cyclone wind speeds, which proved vital in the market’s survival through Cyclone Harold in 2020. Australia is now supporting work to power the markets with renewable energy through consultation with internationally renowned renewable energy experts.
- In partnership with the Pacific Horticultural & Agricultural Market Access program (PHAMA Plus) ($35.6 million, 2018-2022), Australia is supporting the development of climate resilient farming practices for root crops farmers in Fiji (e.g. water conservation, resilient varieties).