A fisherman off the island of Bunaken

The Pacific Islands: Cooperation in action Climate change in the Pacific island region

Most inhabitants of island states in the Pacific region live in the coastal zones of their native small islands, which are often only a few metres above sea level. These people also depend to a large degree on natural resources.

This makes them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events (storms, floods and droughts) and rising sea levels.

These events are a threat to infrastructure, settlements, farmland and freshwater resources, and also to ecosystems on land and in the ocean, which are extremely important for the regional economy and the tourism sector. Rising temperatures and less rainfall are having a direct negative impact on agricultural yields, public health and biodiversity. As most of these islands are low-lying, rising only a few metres above sea level, people living on them have almost nowhere else to go and often there is no funding for any countermeasures. The combination of limited adaptation capacities and major climate impacts is threatening sustainable development in the region.

Funding from the BMZ for German development policy activities is reaching 15 nations in the Pacific region that are threatened by climate change. Measures have included training for teachers in Fiji and Kiribati aimed at integrating climate change issues into the curricula, and the development of a publicly recognised training programme Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction for students in Vanuatu, which is already up and running successfully. Support is being provided to various regional organisations: the Pacific Community (SPC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). They are being helped to improve the information, advice and training they provide on the topic of climate change. This will strengthen the region’s adaptation capacities in the long term.

Some 4000 people in Kiribati and the Solomon Islands now have access to power and water thanks to solar systems and rainwater treatment systems. In addition, training programmes for solar system maintenance have been developed in cooperation with local universities so as to ensure maintenance capacities on the ground. A total of 61 licensed solar technicians and 44 technicians in Kiribati and 12 students in the Solomon Islands have been trained.

Climate risk management is thus helping small island states in the Pacific become more resilient towards disasters and climate change.