Climate Change & Disaster Risk Reduction

Teacher focus group survey on climate change perceptions in Samoa (SPARCK project) © UNESCO/Denis Chang Seng

In 2016, the Pacific became the first region to adopt a regional strategy which brings together climate change and disaster risk management. The Framework for Resilient Development for the Pacific (FRDP), not only recognizes the vulnerability of the Pacific Islands to natural hazards and to climate change, but also recognizes the many ways in which the two interact to threaten the “integrity, food security, water, health, infrastructure, livelihoods and economies” of Pacific Island countries.

Global climate change is expected to exacerbate natural disasters of hydro-meteorological origin, such as cyclones, floods and drought. The Pacific island nations lie in a region where cyclones form frequently. A recent example of the countries’ vulnerability to this type of natural disaster is Tropical Cyclone Winston, which brought major damage to Fiji in February 2016. The 2015-16 drought affecting countries such as Vanuatu, Palau, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Marshall Islands is an example of another type of hydro-meteorological hazard that may be exacerbated by climate change.

In addition to climate change, population growth and urban development are increasing the vulnerability of Pacific islands to natural disasters, particularly in urban and coastal areas.

In line with the outcomes from Rio+20, the SAMOA pathway document, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and UNESCO’s SIDS Action Plan, UNESCO addresses climate change and disaster risk reduction from educational, social, scientific and cultural perspectives. In particular UNESCO provides support to help the Pacific Island countries in their disaster prevention and preparedness. This includes assessment and evaluation; the development of tools for raising awareness and better planning; the development of early warning systems; and the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in environmental, development, science and education policies.

It does so through its Cluster Office for the Pacific States in Apia, Samoa, and with the help of an IOC Programme Officer for Disaster Risk Management and Tsunami Early Warning based in Suva, Fiji. 


Projects & activities:


Sandwatch projects are carried out in various Pacific islands


UNESCO is promoting Climate Frontlines, a global forum for indigenous peoples, small islands and vulnerable communities

The Science sector provided input for the 2013 Culture publication Traditional Knowledge for Adapting to Climate Change, underlining the importance of intersectoral cooperation within UNESCO


Useful Resources:

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