Small island nations increasing resilience with climate change innovation and adaptation
25 May 2016 | Adaptation
Small island nations have already begun taking steps.
Recent information from the World Bank indicates that small island nations have already begun taking steps to increase resilience in the face of climate change.
The challenge is enormous because these islands, of which there are 39 countries, have small economies with little growth, are isolated geographically, which means they have limited resources, and have few ways to finance adaptation efforts to increase resilience.
Repeated natural disasters, repeated economic losses
The World Bank noted that repeated natural disasters cause recurrent losses, affecting a nation’s economic stability. Finding ways to be more resilient in the face of increasing natural disasters and the impacts of warming climate is the key to surviving climate change for these smaller nations.
According to the Lead Operations Officer at Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, Sophia Bettencourt: “Small island states are the most vulnerable when it comes to climate change. Climate change magnifies the risk and increases costs of disasters.
“Small island states are the most vulnerable when it comes to climate change. Climate change magnifies the risk and increases costs of disasters.” ~ Sophia Bettencourt, Lead Operations Officer at Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, The World Bank.
What’s worse, many of these nations are already facing fresh water shortages, including the island nation of Palau, which is home to more than 18,000 people. The Philippines is also likely to face a water shortage within a decade, according to the PhilStar Global.
And the results of a recent study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder suggested that 73 percent of island nations are likely to face increasingly dry conditions that will eventually impact fresh water availability for more than 16 million people.
Nations working hard to develop new tools
Still, many of the islands are working hard to develop the necessary tools to preserve their cultures and to persevere in the face of climate change. Take Samoa, for instance – special aircraft with laser imaging has been used to develop three-dimensional maps that are helping villagers adjust to recent natural disasters that have battered a section of coastline repeatedly over the past several years.
The identification of floodplains, areas prone to landslides, and vulnerable homes and roads by these special maps helps villagers plan better fishing routes to protect its food source and develop evacuation plans to save lives.
Reducing the risk of disaster is the key to sustainable development, according to Ede Ijjasz Vasquez, Senior Director at the World Bank Group’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, but small island nations need creative solutions that include inexpensive funding options.
Programs developed by the World Bank are designed to assist these small island nations and help them overcome economic challenges by providing creative financing options to implement adaptation measures and build community, and thus national resilience.
The newest program, the Small Island States Resilience Initiative (SISRI), launched in September of 2014 and was designed to help theses small island nations access funding and technical expertise from around the world to help access and implement innovative sustainability efforts at an affordable cost.