Minister Manetoali Tells Global Summit of SI Disaster Management Efforts

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Caption: Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Hon Manetoali delivering his statement at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico.

Solomon Islands has taken steps to strengthen its institutional arrangements for disaster management and to align risk reduction and climate change adaption and internalise them across government sectors, the private sector and communities.

Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Hon Samuel Manetoali announced this in his statement at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico, today.

Minister Manetoali heads the Solomon Islands delegation to the meeting. The delegation consists of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Dr Melchior Mataki, Director of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Mr Loti Yates and Acting Director of Meteorology, Mr Lloyd Tahani.

The 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction provides the first opportunity since the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to take stock of implementation and accelerate progress towards the seven Sendai Framework global targets and the disaster risk reduction targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Global Platform is the primary forum to assess progress on implementation; share good practice and knowledge; forge partnerships; and promote the integration of disaster risk reduction across relevant sectors.

The Working Sessions will provide substantial input into the Global Platform Chair’s Summary. The Chair’s Summary will be submitted to the President of the Economic and Social Council as a contribution to the 2017 High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) to be held in New York in July. It will inform deliberations on this year’s HLPF theme “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” to ensure a risk-informed approach is at the centre of the follow-up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Minister Manetoali’s presentation focused on what Solomon Islands has done so far since the coming into operation of the Sendai Framework for disaster reduction in 2015.

He said a major step towards the implementation of the Sendai Framework by Solomon Islands is the clear stipulation of disaster risk reduction in the 4th objective of its national Development Strategy (NDS: 2016-2035): “Resilient and environmentally sustainable development with effective risk management, response and recovery.” This targets enablers of economic development and capacity building to assess and understand risks, respond to and recover from risks and address climate change.

The Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology said Solomon Islands NDS compliments its National Disaster Management Council Act (1989).

In keeping with its NDS and strive to turn its commitment to risk reduction into action, Minister Manetoali said Solomon Islands has reached the conclusion that whilst disaster management and disaster risk reduction are intricately connected, the challenges confronting the implementation of disaster risk reduction lie is its association with the former (disaster management).

“Whereas disaster management is episodic and dramatic, disaster risk reduction is developmental and therefore has to be approached in its implementation differently,” he stressed.

In addition, Minister Manetoali said Solomon Islands also reached the conclusion that disaster risk reduction has to be aligned with climate change adaptation as they are both developmental in their outlook for implementation.

He said consequently, Solomon Islands new draft Disaster Management Plan (2017) was developed mainly to address disaster management- preparedness, response and recovery- whilst risk reduction and climate change adaptation will be addressed in a framework for risk resilience development, although it will be aligned with disaster management.

Minister Manetoali said the above differentiation and realignment also fall comfortably within the ambit of the recently approved regional Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (2017 – 2030).

“Although, the new national framework for resilient development is yet to be developed, we have begun the in-streaming of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation by working within government ministries/sectors that are amenable and open to promoting risk reduction and climate change adaptation in their programmes.

“The above actions are part of an overall goal to promote and apply risk governance: streamlining planning, decision-making and implementing of decisions with proper level of resources and accountability mechanisms to address risk reduction, climate change and disaster management in ways that contribute to, and are embedded in resilient development,” he said.

The Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology said one of the tools Solomon Islands used was the incubation of line positions within selected ministries starting with the ministries responsible for agriculture, health and more recently tourism.

“These efforts have been supported by partners including UNDP, Australia and the World Bank,” he said. “The incubation of positions also serve as an instrument to create an internal demand within the sectors for risk reduction and climate change adaptation,” he said.

He added that both disaster management and disaster risk reduction in Solomon Islands have benefited from the involvement and support by development partners and national and international non-governmental organisations.

In terms of Solomon Islands draft Disaster Management Plan, Minister Manetoali said the roles of development partners and non-governmental organisations’ roles have been clearly expressed therein and the same is envisaged for the framework for risk resilience development.

He said this is also indicative of Solomon Islands intention to promote partnerships and cooperation for disaster management and risk resilient development.

In his statement, Minister Manetoali also announced that Solomon Islands has also started work towards revising the National Disaster Council Act (1989) with the intention of bringing it to par with international disaster management laws, address areas where it is deficient in, and support the alignment of risk reduction with climate change adaptation with due consideration to the national context.

He also announced that Solomon Islands is developing a new climate change legislation which will among other key objectives address the alignment of climate change adaptation and risk reduction.

“My ministry has a mandate covering environment and conservation, climate change, disaster management and meteorology. In my view this is an important step taken by the Solomon Islands more than 10 years ago that is line with the objectives of the Sendai Framework because our mandate can be distilled to that of providing safeguard services to the Government and people of Solomon Islands.

“Over the past two years, we have also promoted collaboration amongst the divisions of the ministry in the implementation of our mandate. This is also a vehicle to put into operation, risk reduction in our own ministry, and to serve as an example of collaboration for risk reduction to other line ministries and stakeholders.”

Minister Manetoali also took the opportunity to highlight the challenges faced in its efforts to implement the Sendai Framework and measures to be taken to address the challenges.

“Although the above narrations speak favorably of the steps we took to operationalize the Sendai Framework, we are also confronted with a variety of challenges ranging from limited and the lack thereof of technical and institutional capacities and financial resources, to competing national priorities.

“We have sought to address some of these challenges by drawing on our partnerships with stakeholders within and outside of the Solomon Islands. Nevertheless, there is still a lot more to be done, and therefore the means of implementation of the Sendai Framework must be looked into seriously at the international level to support national level activities especially in highly vulnerable countries such as the Solomon Islands.”