‘As the Island Choirs Gather’

Tracing a Regional Approach to Disaster and Climate Resilience in Pacific Island Countries

In: Yearbook of International Disaster Law Online
W. John Hopkins
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Tommaso Natoli
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Leanne Avila
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1 Introduction: Framing “Climate Resilience” in the Pacific Islands Region1

In the last decade, the inherent connections between (some types of) natural hazards and climate change have been extensively analysed and proven by the scientific community.2 With the aim of reducing the combined and destructive impacts of these two phenomena, such analyses led to the identification of “climate resilience” as a key concept of reference, whose accomplishment is today one of the main overall objectives of international and national decision- making in this field. Starting from the definition of ‘resilience’ provided by UNDRR in 2016, “climate resilience” can be considered as ‘[t]he ability of a system, community or society exposed to climate-related hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform and recover from the effects of such hazards in a sustainable and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions through disaster risk management’.3

The Pacific Islands region represents a vast, rich, and diverse source for globally relevant research on the role of law and policies in enhancing climate resilience at different levels. This is mainly due to the serious consequences that climate change is already causing at a growing rate across the region, which hosts the top three most at-risk countries in the world (Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Tonga) and five of the top fifteen (also considering Papua New Guinea and Fiji).4 It is not by chance that this area of Oceania is generally considered “on the frontline” of the global climate crisis. In fact, among various drivers of risk and vulnerability, one can consider how, in an ocean-dependent region, the observed rate of sea-level rise is up to four times the global average, therefore putting at risk the security, health, well-being and culture of entire communities.5 Undeniably, the combined effects of climate variability, sea-level rise and weather-related natural hazards already threaten the very existence of some of the Pacific Island Countries (PIC s).6

Against this backdrop, the study of the “Pacific Way” to climate resilience can feed into up-to-date theoretical reflection on how regional institutions and frameworks can constitute key tools to respond to the climate crisis and its effects. To this end, this study will first illustrate how the Pacific Region has known different and discontinuous phases in addressing the causes and the effects of disasters, and how this led to the adoption of a fragmented regional setting (Section 2). Despite that, since 2015, a renewed effort in adopting regional frameworks can be noticed, and this led some PIC s to achieve noteworthy regulatory advancements in this field (Section 3). Such reforms are based on pursuing a holistic approach to reducing the risk of disasters (DRR) while contextually adapting to the changing climate and its effects, under both the institutional and normative perspectives. As will be discussed in the conclusions (Section 4), the most recent Pacific regional trends in the Pacific provide reasons for a degree of optimism. However, a number of risks, not only deriving from climate-related threats but also intrinsic to the Pacific governance model itself, loom over the region’s future.

2 Regional Disaster Cooperation in the Pacific

2.1 The Regional Context

The Pacific region is defined as much through state membership of political entities as it is by the geography of the region. The two key entities that both define the political map of the region and act as its coordinating mechanism are the (South) Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Island Forum (PIF). The SPC (which no longer uses the geographic term in its full name) is a scientific and technical organisation governed by its twenty-six member states. In the field of disaster risk, it has responsibility in the fields of climate change and disaster risk management.7 The PIF, by contrast, is a broad-based regional political organisation currently guided by the ‘Framework of Pacific Regionalism – The 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent’.8 This document commits the PIF to a vision for the region framed by the Oceanic nature of the majority of Forum member states and focused upon ‘peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity’ for Pasifika people to live ‘free, healthy, and productive lives’.9 Importantly, the PIF is not a formal regional organisation and has no founding treaty. As will be discussed, this informality constitutes the key feature of the Pacific model of regionalism (i.e. the “Pacific Way”). The SPC is linked to the PIF through the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP). The CROP was established by Forum leaders in 1988 to act as a mechanism for improving ‘cooperation, coordination and collaboration’ between the regional Pacific organisations.10 The management of the CROP is undertaken by the Forum Secretariat (PIFS).11

This framework gives the impression of a relatively settled regional structure, but appearances can be deceptive, and the Pacific region has long been riven by divisions that can be traced back to the early days of regional cooperation. This began in the immediate post-war period with the establishment of the South Pacific Commission in 1947.12 This body is often regarded as the first Pacific regional organisation, but it is important to note the context in which this early cooperation took place. Colonialism was still the dominant political model in the region and there were no independent Pacific states at the time. As a result, the signatories to the Commission (which would later morph into the SPC) were the governments of Australia, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Therefore, representatives from the territories of the Pacific could participate in the SPC, but this involvement was limited to engagement at the “technical” level. The key decision-makers within the SPC remained the colonial powers, although their numbers dwindled as their regional role waned (the Netherlands withdrew in 1962 and the United Kingdom in 2004).13

The rise of independence movements in the Pacific and the establishment of the first independent Pacific Island government (Western Samoa, in 1962) put significant pressure upon the SPC model. The continued insistence that political matters were outside the scope of the SPC led to pressure from Pacific territories to create a forum where such matters could be raised and discussed. In addition, the newly independent states wished to see the role of colonial powers reduced in Pacific affairs. As a result, the Pacific Forum was established in 1971 to provide a broader political body for the discussion of Pacific issues and the coordination of regional policy.14 The PIF today comprises eighteen members from across the Oceanic Pacific, but the inclusion of some States has been controversial from the start.15 Even though the independent Pacific island states (and their increasingly autonomous counterparts) created the PIF as a means of providing a Pacific voice, Australia and New Zealand were invited to join. This was not a move that all the Pacific states welcomed as both states have a history of colonialism and poor behaviour in the region.16 However, the financial support that these “metropolitan”17 states brought to the organisation was deemed to outweigh the disadvantages that their membership could bring. The relationship between the developed states (of Australia and New Zealand) and the PIC s remains a constant tension in the region and within the regional organisations. This tension is seen throughout Pacific regional policy and regional approaches to DRR are no exception.

2.2 The Origins of a Pacific Approach to Disaster Risk Reduction

The PIF saw DRR as an early regional priority. This focus saw the establishment, in 1975, of the Regional Natural Disaster Relief Fund (RNDRF), one of the world’s first regional DRR initiatives.18 Funded by member governments, the Fund was established with the assistance of the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation (SPEC) and remains managed by the PIFS.19 The region’s pioneering regional engagement in this field was confirmed in 1976, when the SPC discussed disaster preparedness at the South Pacific Disaster Preparedness and Relief Seminar in Suva, Fiji.

Despite these early encouraging signs that Pacific regional cooperation might develop further in the field of DRR, this was to prove a false dawn as after the high-water mark of the 1970s, Pacific leaders retreated from regionalism generally and from areas such as public security more specifically. The newly independent states tended to resent what was perceived to be outside interference in their newly acquired policy independence. As a consequence, the development of legal and policy frameworks to advance DRR and DRM faded from the agenda of the PIF and its member states. It was not until the late 1990s that there were further moves towards regional cooperation in the field. However, these were driven again, at least in part, by the concerns of the metropolitan Pacific states. As political instability began to spread in the region, regionalism saw a turn towards securitisation.

This shift began to be most clearly expressed through the 1997 Aitutaki Declaration on Regional Security (although in fact, it built upon these embryonic ideas found in the 1992 Honiara Declaration) which explicitly referenced regional security cooperation in a form that included natural disasters and environmental damage.20 However, the subsequent Biketawa Declaration (2000) failed to advance these explicit references to natural disaster response, instead focusing on political instability, for which the declaration has become the regional touchstone. As will be further analysed below, this lacuna was finally addressed in 2018 with the adoption of the Boe Declaration, which, while emphasising the regional political security found in Biketawa, provided additional emphasis and specific actions related to disaster law and policies.21

2.3 Pairing Climate and Disasters Risks in the Pacific (2005–2015)

The political declarations outlined above (although, at best, “soft” international law) have been fundamental to the development of regional frameworks to enhance cooperation in the field of DRR and played an important role in the Pacific “informal” context (specifically in the PIF). However, the complex nature of Pacific governance means that the PIF alone does not drive regional cooperation in the region. DRR cooperation in the region was, until 2015, framed by the ‘Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Framework for Action 2005–2016’ (RFA), developed as part of the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005–2015) under the auspices of the SPC. However, despite the interconnected nature of climate change and disaster vulnerability in the Pacific, until 2015, regional climate change policy was framed through another tool, namely the ‘Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change 2006–2016’ (PIFACC), adopted through the SPREP (the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme), the region’s international organisation on environmental issues. As SPREP emerged from the SPC (via the UNEP Regional Seas Programme), its membership is once again far broader than the PIF’s.22 Although it sits within the CROP, like the SPC, its membership comprises 21 PICT s (Pacific Islands Countries and Territories)23 plus five metropolitan members (US, UK, France, Australia and New Zealand). These parallel tracks reflect the international legal framework’s bi-furcation of climate change and disaster risk reduction (and donor influence which follow such an approach) rather than the views of the PICT governments themselves. In addition to emphasising the external drivers that played (and still play) a disproportionate role in the Pacific region, the lack of coordination between DRR/DRM and climate-related issues had a real impact on PICT s who often lack legal and administrative capacity to jointly address the two sectors. Pacific states often have very small government legal departments, and the reporting requirements of multiple international governance frameworks can create a real drain on very limited resources.24

Despite this, the period saw some significant integrated successes in the region, including the establishment of the Pacific Islands Meteorological Council in 2011, followed shortly afterwards by the first Pacific Islands Meteorological Strategy (PIMS) that mentioned – as one of its priority areas for action – the development of improved end-to-end Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) and enhanced infrastructure (data and information services) for weather, climate and water.25 Moreover, the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable established under the PIFACC, provided another means to assess the work done towards the implementation of the different themes under the framework.26 Integrated regional knowledge and training was also improved, in particular through the University of the South Pacific offering post-graduate programmes in climate change that include DRM.27

Further regional cooperation has seen collaboration around regional scientific databases, particularly the Pacific Sea Level Monitoring project, with the primary goal of providing a high-quality and reliable record of climate and sea level in the region.28 This project provided for improved data to assist in the management of coastal infrastructure and industries across the region.29 The development of early warning systems across the region was also a priority during this period, particularly under the RFA. This saw the development of a Pacific DRM Partnership Regional Early Warning Strategy in 2008, and both the strengthening of regional early warning systems (through the World Meteorological Organisation) and improvement of national tsunami early warning systems in the Southwest Pacific.30

However, some of the most important developments in this period have been around NGO cooperation and the inclusion of such agencies in regional planning. The key development in this sphere was the establishment, by The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), of the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) in 2008 to support the coordination of response to disasters and emergencies through the United Nations Cluster System.31 The PHT responds to the needs of the communities through the eight clusters (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Shelter; Logistics; Protection; Early Recovery; Education; Health and Nutrition; and Food Security). These clusters allow an organized response from both state and non-state actors, something that is crucial in a Pacific context, where NGO s take on a disproportionate role. The PHT has assisted PIC s in more than 15 emergencies and has facilitated a number of inter-agency contingency planning exercises with national authorities in Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu with the help of funding from the development partners.32

2.4 Informal Regional Cooperation in the Pacific: a Multifaceted Approach towards Cross-Sectoral Integration (2015–Present)

Although the period of the parallel frameworks (2005–2015), saw some improvements at the regional level around DRR, institutionalised cooperation within the region remained limited. As will be discussed in Section 3, the main progress was at the national level, with improved governance arrangements under the auspices of the existing frameworks with an emphasis on integration,33 primarily thanks to the actions of NGO s, particularly the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The PIF, as the primary political driver in the region, had largely left the field to the SPC and technical agencies of the CROP. As a result, the regional Pacific disaster framework remained patchy with no formal political structure.

However, the end of the previous frameworks and the development of a more integrated ‘Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific’ (FRDP) in 2016 marked something of a new beginning. This new integrated framework was driven by the PIF and developed through a multi-stakeholder process, which included NGO s. The result was a regional resilience strategy that is closer to regional requirements and reflects regional priorities. In particular, it integrates responses to climate change (as well as low carbon development) with DRR, rather than having two parallel regional instruments addressing these issues. As a consequence, the FRDP establishes three integrated goals to increase resilience in the region. Strengthened integrated adaptation and risk reduction to enhance resilience to climate change and disasters (Goal 1); low-carbon development (Goal 2) and strengthened disaster preparedness, response and recovery (Goal 3).34 The FRDP also provides some innovative approaches to the delivery of DRR beyond the integration of climate change and DRR into a single strategy. In particular, the Framework provides for a relatively broad all-stakeholder approach rather than a state-based model.35 The clearest example of this approach can be seen in the use of Pacific Resilience Partnership (PRP) as the key mechanism for implementing the FRDP.36 Another regionally led initiative has seen the establishment of the PIF’s Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF).37 This has been established to provide a regional financial facility to develop FRDP compatible projects. The PRF is notable for the use of grants rather than loans to implement the FRDP’s goals and the direct funding of small-scale community projects that normally would not be funded at the regional/international level. Again, this reflects a very Pacific approach to resolve the capacity problems that exist within many states around managing such funding nationally.

The wider political context is also important to understand the genesis of the current “Pacific way” to disaster and climate resilience. This has seen a particularly effective PIF Secretary-General (Dame Meg Taylor) driving forward an agenda of enhanced regional cooperation under the ‘Blue Pacific’ strategy. The 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific (Blue Pacific Framework) was launched in 2017 as a means to guide the future of the PIF and Pacific regional cooperation in the next three decades. The strategy is still under development, with the final version being expected to be placed before the PIF leaders’ meeting shortly.38 Through this strategy, which has a specific focus on DRR, the regional leaders are committed to creating a regional architecture capable of delivering the endorsed goals. Although the final shape of the Blue Pacific strategy remains unknown, the climate seems to be shifting both in relation to DRR cooperation and wider cooperation in the Pacific region. Faced with the existential threat of climate change and supported by the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, forum leaders now seem committed to increased cooperation in the field.39

In addition, the recent commitment to regional DRR cooperation in the ‘Boe Declaration on Regional Security’ adopted in 2018 by the PIF’s leaders, and its accompanying action plan, is further evidence of this change of mood and provide concrete aims for deepening cooperation in the field of DRR and the creation of a regional institution to manage it.40 As a result of this declaration, PIF Member States explicitly recognised the importance of ‘humanitarian assistance’ as a core function of the future actions of the PIF. Perhaps more importantly, the 2019 Boe Declaration Action Plan put these high-level commitments into practice.41 Two elements are of particular note here. The first is the Plan’s obligation for all PIF states to expand and modernise their existing disaster management frameworks.42 This is significant due to its unusually prescriptive language (in a Pacific context) and the fact that it will likely require many PIF states to revise their current disaster management frameworks and the ageing legal frameworks that underpin them.43 The other is the explicit commitment to developing ‘a regional coordination mechanism for disaster preparedness and response’.44 Although the idea of a regional disaster response mechanism has been regularly mooted, primarily by NGO s and academics, this marks a major policy shift for Pacific Island states, which, until now have shied away from such cooperation.45 Such a mechanism would mark a significant departure from the informal “Pacific Way” which has been the dominant feature of past regional disaster management co-operation (and regional co-operation more generally).

Whereas the nature of such a mechanism remains unclear, the Boe Declaration Action Plan does make it clear that it will have the responsibility for the pre-positioning of approved goods, the pooling of resources, and the development of Standard Operating Procedures for a regional response.46 Interestingly, these commitments have been given a boost by the experiences of Forum states in the COVID-19 pandemic where cooperation mechanisms, particularly the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19 (PHP-C) proved effective during a period of extreme difficulty for PIC s. This Pacific-led initiative focused on establishing common regional protocols around the deployment of technical personnel; customs and biosecurity; immigration; repatriation of foreign nationals; and diplomatic clearances for aircraft and ships transporting medical or humanitarian assistance during the pandemic.47 The PHP-C also established the Pacific Humanitarian Air Service, which ensured that the suspension of commercial flights did not impede the delivery of urgently required personnel, equipment, and supplies.

These positive developments in regional Pacific co-operation across DRR and climate change provide for a degree of optimism as the PIC s face the ever- greater challenge of climate change. The unanswered question, however, is whether the informal and institutionally fragile regional architecture will be able to support the ambitions of the Boe declaration and the FRDP.

3 Surveying the National Level: the PIC s’ ‘Harmonised’ Approach to Disaster and Climate Resilience

PIC s share similar challenges and opportunities in mitigating the risks, and coping with the effects, of climate-related disasters. Indeed, a survey of laws and policies adopted by these countries since 2015 provides significant evidence of their capacity to accomplish regulatory advancements in this field. This mainly happened through the adoption of comprehensive and more integrated instruments that gradually defined a distinctive ‘trend’ with its own features, namely a horizontal normative harmonisation in the adoption of laws and policies, facilitated by the technical support provided by external actors operating in the area (3.1); and the adoption of regulatory tools that suitably “filter down” international commitments and ensure greater coherence across Climate Change Adaptation (CCA), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and sustainable development (3.2). The following sections will trace these two ‘patterns’ and corroborate them with a few practical examples.

3.1 Horizontal ‘Peer-Learning’ Approaches in the Adoption of Disaster Laws and Policies

The way in which countries effectively align from a normative perspective is a critical element to assess disaster law developments in PIC s. Despite the different levels of exposure and the variety of risks and vulnerabilities across them, horizontal coordination efforts towards greater climate and disaster risk resilience have multiplied over the years, based on the awareness of their common destiny and the need to enhance their political and legislative actions to prevent it. As illustrated in Section 2, this process gained momentum with the adoption of the ‘Boe Declaration’ and the ‘FRDP’, thanks to which PIC s have developed a more collective and integrated approach to addressing climate- related risks.

A noteworthy aspect highlighting decision-making alignments underway across PIC s is the increasing tendency to arrange horizontal technical discussions and to share good normative practices. Over the last few years, this activity has been facilitated by the coordinating efforts provided by regional organisations such as the PIF and, in particular, through the Pacific Resilience Partnership (PRP) as the FRDP implementation mechanism. The main objective of the PRP – bringing together different stakeholder groups and communities of practice working on climate change, disaster risk management and sustainable development – is to provide high-level strategic guidance on how to sustainably enhance climate resilience.48 This goal is mainly pursued through the assessment of respective approaches to law (and policy) making, the comparison between national experiences, and the consideration of good practices through peer-to-peer “learning”. Other international organisations contribute to this effort, providing additional support and acting as sponsors and technical partners. Examples include the IFRC (coordinating the work of the National Red Cross Societies acting as auxiliaries to respective governments in this field), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) mainly through its regional sub-branch in the Pacific; and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Through the involvement of experts and the dissemination of tools developed for this purpose, these organisations facilitated and supported technical meetings focussing on legislative and policy advancements.49

Since 2015, PIC country delegations (mainly formed by government officials from relevant ministries and departments; national disaster management offices; offices of the Attorney-General; or Red Cross representatives) have been actively involved in thematic initiatives where national representatives mapped, compared and self-assessed respective domestic legislations as well as the identification of institutional roles and responsibilities. In this process, particular attention is given to how such domestic settings allow for a suitable integration of different agendas, especially against the intertwined commitments adopted regionally and internationally (see on this the following Section 3.2). The importance of law-making in this context is evidenced by the establishment of a Technical Working Group on Risk Governance for Resilient Development with a focus on ‘climate-smart DRM legislation’, under the PRP in partnership with the PIFS and the IFRC. This is a particularly noteworthy example, especially considering the wide participation by member States.

In many cases, these initiatives resulted in the development of country action plans for reviewing and strengthening PIC s’ legal frameworks. As part of this, the passage from a “reactive” legislative approach, mainly focusing on operational issues in disaster response, to a “proactive” one more broadly based on the management of risks and adopting a “whole-of-society” and inclusive perspective can be highlighted. This happened for instance with the National Disaster Risk Management Act adopted by Nauru in 2016 (enacted in 2017), reforming and repealing a previous law from 2008, and based on lessons learned during Cyclones Pam and Winston, that struck the region respectively in 2015 and 2016. This new piece of legislation provides more comprehensively for matters relating to the whole disaster risk management “continuum”, including risk reduction measures and the preventive adoption of national disaster management plans and guidelines. The Act’s overall purpose is to improve communities’ preparedness through a multi-stakeholder approach. This is evidenced by the provisions mandating the participation of representatives from civil society in the National Disaster Risk Management Council,50 and those establishing Community Disaster Management Committees comprising representatives from youth and women’s groups as well as traditional and church leaders.51

Still, as acknowledged by Nauru’s government officials, one of the key reasons for the reform was the importance of clarifying the roles of key players, including international ones.52 It is not by chance, then, that the new law includes an entire section regulating the provision of external assistance and can be considered as one of the most advanced in the world on this topic. The drafting of this section of the DRM Act was based on the content of the IFRC ‘Guidelines on the Domestic Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief and Initial Recovery Assistance’ (IDRL Guidelines)53 designed to assist governments to become better prepared for the common legal problems in international response operations, and the use of which was formally encouraged by PIF leaders in 2012.54 More specifically, Nauru’s DRM Act sets out in detail the process for assessing the need for international assistance (including a preliminary list of goods, equipment and services required to be made available to international actors)55 as well as for officially requesting it.56 The Law also identifies the duties and powers of the Department of National Emergency Services as the focal point agency between the Government and international actors,57 and provides the latter with a number of “legal facilitations” (e.g. on visa requirements, registration of medical and health professionals, recognition of other foreign personal qualifications, provisions for foreign driving licenses, custom facilitations, legal capacities, etc).58 Interestingly, the general responsibilities of ‘international assisting actors’ are also outlined, including their duty to respect the dignity of affected persons, to avoid the provision of unsolicited and unusable goods, and – more generally – to ensure an appropriate standard for goods and services on the basis of the content of the Sphere Project Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response.59

What followed the advancements in Nauru’s legislative reforms illustrated how “south-south learning” is also steering the process within the region, as demonstrated by the similar regulatory approach taken a few years later by Vanuatu in developing its 2019 Disaster Risk Management Act.60 This reform was also prompted by the catastrophic effect of Cyclone Pam, which affected 70% of the nation’s population and caused damage and loss valued at 64% of its GDP.61 This disaster highlighted how the lack of clear guidance for, and coordination of, international disaster assistance (particularly the provision of unsolicited goods) were among the main key challenges faced by Vanuatu’s authorities.62 Of note, the new law reflected some of the normative “tendencies” featured in Nauru’s DRM Act, such as the broadening of the functions of relevant national bodies to include preparedness and risk reduction components and the involvement of non-governmental representatives in Provincial and Municipal Disaster and Climate Change Committees.63 It also provided a better articulation of the norms used to regulate the provision of international disaster assistance.64

According to qualitative empirical research undertaken in 2019, the peer- to-peer learning process is ongoing and will presumably favour further cross-sectoral approaches in PIC s’ governance systems.65 This is demonstrated for instance by the drafting process for the new Fijian DRM Bill, undertaken since 2019 by the National Disaster Management Office in partnership with the Fiji Red Cross and the IFRC. This process, undertaken as a consequence of the experiences with Cyclone Winston in 2016, has been partially inspired by work previously undertaken by Vanuatu and Nauru,66 and results from a series of public consultations with targeted stakeholders and input provided by a dedicated Advisory Working Group comprised of international technical experts. According to a Fijian governmental official, this process will ensure key emerging issues such as climate change, security, gender equality, disability, and humanitarian coordination are encompassed within the new legislation.67 Similarly, Solomon Islands’ authorities are following closely the experience of Vanuatu and how they have approached legal coherence in the fields of disaster and climate change while discussing with the Governments of Samoa and the Cook Islands how to step forward in the same direction.68

3.2 PIC s’ Laws and Policies Ensuring Greater Coherence across Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development

In analysing the main barriers and lessons learned about the linking of CCA and DRR measures in the Pacific, a UNISDR-UNDP thematic study from 2012 emphasized the adoption of integrated national policies and legislation as one of the main entry points for future development.69 However, the FRDP adopted in 2016 (see infra Section 2) does not contain an explicit call for legislative improvements in the list of actions suggested for greater CCA-DRR integration (Goal 1). On the contrary, it only refers to the need to ‘[s]trengthen capacities at all levels of government, administration and community […], responsive decision-making systems’, and ‘develop […] inclusive multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder mechanisms […] to ensure climate change and disaster resilience in all development sectors’.70 This approach is reportedly due to a greater sensitivity by governmental stakeholders having international/regional instruments that are too prescriptive on domestic law-making.71 However, the actions listed under the other two Goals of the FRDP (respectively dealing with ‘Low-carbon development’ and ‘Strengthened disaster preparedness, response and recovery’) specifically mention, although briefly, the need to develop and enforce efficient and effective legislation and regulations.

While this aspect may be reconsidered in the future (the FRDP will be subject to review no later than 2024), the importance of legislative improvements towards greater coherence across sectors was formally stated at the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (Geneva, 2019) gathering representatives from 168 States and 187 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.72 On that occasion, the international community adopted a resolution on ‘Disaster laws and policies that leave no one behind’ calling on States to assess whether their existing domestic disaster laws, policies, strategies, and plans ensured an integrated approach to disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change.73 Of note, the resolution was supported by some PIC s’ delegations to the Conference (i.e. Fiji, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, and Kiribati) who openly acknowledged the need for “climate-smart” policies ‘in order to avert the cost of doing nothing’ and highlighted how the review of domestic disaster law to integrate a “climate-smart” approach was in line with the key regional goals.74 PIC s’ commitment to the approval of this resolution was also evidenced by the delegation of Marshall Islands helping to solve a political impasse that risked undermining the overall consensus to its approval during the final plenary session.75

Since 2015, as already mentioned above, many PIC s have been reforming their institutional and normative systems to pursue a holistic approach to disaster and climate issues and providing evidence on how to coherently “filter down” global, regional and national governance frameworks such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the SAMOA Pathway. In line with the growing international call for greater cross-sectoral integration between these sectors,76 advancements at the domestic level are considered as a “natural” outcome for PIC s, for which CCA and DRR already represented “two sides of the same coin”.77 However, they consider the persistent siloed approach to these topics in the global governance system as a hindering factor towards that goal, leading to competition among ministries alongside separate and parallel access to external funding streams, i.e. the main financial resource for climate-related activities in the region.78 Accordingly, a more integrated regulatory setting appeared to them as a way to optimize the (often insufficient) human, technical, and financial resources at all levels of territorial administration, including sub-national ones (i.e. provinces and municipalities).

The formulation of multi-year policy plans represents a key feature of the PIC s’ model of governance, along the lines of the national adaptation planning process (NAP) launched in 2010 at the 16th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (CoP) under the Cancún Adaptation Framework (CAF) as a mechanism calling on governments to adopt and mainstream adaptation plans with national strategies on development and risk management.79 In 2015, the legal basis of this process was further strengthened with the adoption of the Paris Agreement, which binds each party to engage, as appropriate, in adaptation planning and implementing actions, including the development or enhancement of NAP s as documents where countries can address the domestic application of their international commitments, both legal and political, especially with regard to climate change and risk reduction measures.80 Among the 34 NAP s formally submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat from 2015 onwards, those presented by Fiji (2018),81 Kiribati (2020)82 and Tonga (2021)83 systematically link their content with disaster risk management (in the case of Fiji also making a clear reference to the need for implement the Sendai Framework)84 and sustainable development (with explicit connections to the SDG s). Interestingly, ‘horizontal integration’ across multiple Government Ministries and other national entities/administrations, is described in the Fijian NAP as one of its fundamental premises and presented as a means to tackle existing barriers and make more efficient and effective use of financial and human resources.85 Of additional note, one of the related adaptation measures included in the document seeks to ‘[i]ntegrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction considerations into strategic national and sectoral planning processes and revise ratification processes to ensure alignment with relevant policy, plans, and legislation’.86

Similarly, Kiribati’s Joint Implementation Plan (KJIP) acknowledges how ‘some laws need to be adjusted to enable agencies to respond effectively to the impacts of climate change and disasters’.87 The KJIP’s first key national adaptation priority on ‘[s]trengthening good governance, strategies and legislation’ also foresees that ‘[a]ll policies, strategies, sector operational plans, ministry annual work plans, ministerial plans of operations, project proposals and monitoring and evaluation systems enable the proactive and inclusive reduction of climate change and disaster risks’, and that ‘[a]ppropriate national and sector legislation is providing an enabling environment to enforce climate and disaster risk reduction’.88 Contextually, the document recommends that steps be taken to ‘[e]nhance coordination between climate change adaptation and disaster risk management programmes and legislation, by government departments, island councils, NGO s, FBO s and the private sector in a collaborative manner across sectors and link these to our development aspirations’.89 The implementation system of the KJIP is particularly noteworthy as a detailed ‘action matrix’ systematically identifies the list of national normative tools that should be considered in the legislative review process and the steps to follow (e.g. ‘a. Seek ministerial approval for the review; b. Engage relevant resource personnel to lead the review …’); pinpoints a set of performance indicators (e.g. ‘[i]ncreased percentage of policies, strategies, legislation, Ministry Strategic Plans and Ministry Operational Plans that have provisions for reducing climate change and disaster risks’); and points out which responsible agencies, support agencies and development partners have to be involved in the normative update process.90

Beyond the documents formally submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat, other PIC s have developed similar ‘joint national action plans’ policies (i.e. JNAP s). JNAP s are single policy frameworks considering climate and disaster risk as part of the same agenda and enhancing normative preparedness in light of both the Paris Agreement and Sendai Framework requirements.91 This national trend constitutes one of the most advanced “models” in the world in terms of cross-sectoral integration, especially in light of the identification of clear normative outcomes to be accomplished. However, margins for further improvements are still detectable as JNAP s do not always provide specific timeframes for process, actual budget breakdowns and detailed monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.92

4 The “Pacific Way” at Risk: Assessing the Future of Pacific Regionalism on Disaster and Climate Resilience

The period since 2015 has seen a shift in Pacific regionalism generally and more specifically in the DRR space. Starting with the new FRDP, we can see the emergence of a Pacific approach to DRR cooperation that may, perhaps, better reflect the needs of the PIC s themselves. Firstly, this happened through the very act of combining climate change and DRR into single frameworks (both regional and national) and then through the decision to utilise an all-stakeholder approach involving significant NGO s, particularly the IFRC and National Red Cross Societies. When seen in the context of greater acceptance amongst Pacific leaders of the need for regional DRR cooperation also integrating adaptation to climate impacts, if perhaps not bright, the future is at least less dark than it might be.

However, even though the regional and national developments in the field of disaster and climate resilience described above provide reasons for a degree of optimism, more recent events have cast a pall over regional prospects generally. The Pacific, despite its moves towards increased cooperation, remains a reluctant regionalist. This is partly driven by the huge cultural and political differences that exist across a “region” that occupies nearly 30% of the world’s oceans. But it also reflects the views of Pacific nations wary of giving up national sovereignty, particularly as such sovereignty and the UN voting rights that come with it are “marketable commodities”. In addition, the lack of capacity in many PIC s and huge logistical difficulties in transports and communications that exist in the region makes state-centric regional cooperation difficult. As a result, international agencies and NGO s play a significant role in binding the region together.

The lack of formality featuring in the “Pacific Way” to institutionalised regionalism also represents a risk. The weaknesses of this model were exposed in February 2021, when the five north Pacific Micronesian States (Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Republic of Marshall Islands, and Palau) formally announced their decision to trigger withdrawal procedures from the PIF. The Micronesian leaders’ understanding had been that the role of secretary-general would be rotated amongst leaders of the PIF’s sub-regions and thus claimed that it was Micronesia’s turn. This was all based on an informal ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that the leaders would be elected based on a sub-regional rotation.93 Instead, after a contested ballot of Forum members, the role was given to the former prime minister of the Cook Islands, Henry Puna, rather than the Micronesia candidate (Gerald Zackios). The loss of one- third of its membership would be disastrous for the PIF and cast shadows on future disaster law developments in the region.94

Although the SPC has performed a technical role in coordinating and assisting states in developing improved DRR mechanisms, it lacks the political will to drive regional cooperation in the field as well as institutional and legislative advancements. The current model is confusing enough with the SPC, PIF, and other agencies providing overlapping authority (albeit within the loose framework of the CROP). A weakened PIF and the potential emergence of a new regional entity for the North Pacific would further weaken an already over-crowded regional space, just at a time when the Blue Pacific initiative and the Boe declaration provide the possibility for significant improvements in addressing climate and disaster risks “as a region”. For all concerned, it must be hoped that the PIF can resolve its differences and thus continue its slow progress towards a regional mechanism capable of managing and delivering DRR cooperation in a time of existential threat to the region. Alongside the internal threats of the Pacific regional architecture, the increasingly aggressive role of China threatens to further upset the regional balance. When this is combined with the weakening of the Rule of Law in a number of Pacific states experienced during the COVID pandemic, the future of Pacific regionalism and, with it, of regional DRR responses, remain uncertain.

Another question that constantly emerges when studying Pacific regionalism generally, and in the field of DRR specifically, is how many of these initiatives are truly Pacific-led. The regional architecture remains suffused with the colonial legacy, with former colonial states still playing a significant role in the region. In addition, the regional metropolitan states have very different priorities from their Pacific neighbours, particularly with Australia seeing the South Pacific region purely in security terms. As a result, Pacific initiatives often have the hallmark of the large states and there is no doubt that much of the DRR cooperation models have operated more as regional implementation strategies of global treaty norms rather than having a truly regional flavour. The 2005–2015 period is a particular example of this with the RFA and the PIFACC delivering international frameworks through regional models.

That these difficulties for Pacific regionalism occur at a time of unpredictable threat to the region as a result of climate change is at best unfortunate and at worst catastrophic. The increase in surface and ocean temperatures, severe tropical cyclones, rising sea levels, coastal inundation, and droughts are leading to dramatic changes to the regional landscape.95 When this is allied to the fact that sea-level rises have a slow onset impact causing the possibility of land loss, the contamination of freshwater systems and agricultural land, the fragility of the many PIC s will only increase.96 This of course does not even address the existential threat that sea-level rise poses. With the IPCC predicting a possible 1.1-meter sea level rise by 2100, the impact on small island nations is far beyond the capabilities of those states to manage.97 At this level of sea-level rise, two-thirds of the current landmass of Kiribati would be underwater.98 Without regional cooperation to mitigate the consequences of that disaster – and the disasters that will precede it – the future of the region looks very bleak indeed. If the region is to provide resilience to the disasters that lie ahead, PIC s must work together and advance the existing regional mechanisms to do so. However, they must also ensure that such mechanisms are focused on the needs of the people of the PIC s themselves, rather than the interests of those states that the Pacific has to blame for the threats that now assail them.


Professor of Law, LEAD Institute of Law, Emergencies and Disasters, Law School, University of Canterbury.


IFRC and Italian Red Cross Disaster Law Consultant (the opinions expressed in this study do not necessarily represent the IFRC or ItRC official policies).


LEAD Summer Research Scholar.


The quotation in the title is taken from Tom Bamforth, The Rising Tide. Among the Island and Atolls of the Pacific Ocean (Hardie Grant 2019) 257, ‘the Pacific Island societies are at once an example and a waring […] As the island choirs gather, once more to stand their ground, we must listen to their drumming and their song’.


A process formalised in IPCC ‘Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation’ (SREX Report, 2012) and progressed until the recent IPCC Report on ‘Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’ (WGII) 2022, see in particular SPM.B.1.


Based on the definition provided in UNGA Res A/71/644 (1 December 2016) UN Doc A/RES/71/644.


World Risk Report 2021, Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft – Ruhr University Bochum – Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV), 54 (Appendix), available here <> (last accessed, as any subsequent URL, on 5 May 2022).


John E. Hay, ‘On the Frontline: Climate Risks and Responses in the Pacific Islands Region’ in Cynthia Rosenzweig (ed), Our Warming Planet: Identifying and Managing the Impacts and Risks, World Scientific Publishing (2019); see also Bryony Townhill et al. (eds), Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme – CMEP, ‘Pacific Marine Climate Change Report Card’ (2018).


John E. Hay, Virginie Duvat and Alexandre K. Magnan, ‘Trends in Vulnerability to Climate- related Hazards in the Pacific: Research, Understanding and Implications’ in W. Tad Pfeffer, Joel B. Smith and Kristie L. Ebi (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Planning for Climate Change Hazards (OUP 2019). PIC s are small island States spread across a unique and diverse region made up of hundreds of islands over an area equivalent to 15% of the globe’s surface. PIC s include Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Papua New Guinea can also be included but it is generally considered separately in light of its cultural, demographic and structural differences. The independent states of the Cook Islands and Niue are a particular case, being self-governing Countries in free association with New Zealand which manages their foreign policy and guarantees their international representation. The category can be extended to that of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICT s) in order to include non-independent territories, such as French Polynesia (FRA) or the Pitcairn Islands (UK).


The Pacific Community (SPC) is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, supporting its development since 1947. SPC is an international development organisation owned and governed by its 26 Pacific country and territory members. This organisation covers more than 20 sectors and is renowned for knowledge and innovation in such areas as: fisheries science, public health surveillance, geoscience, and conservation of plant genetic resources for food security. See <>.


Established in 1971, the PIF works to achieve this by fostering cooperation between governments, collaboration with international agencies, and by representing the interests of its members.


Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific Charter 2018, (February 2019) 2.


W. John Hopkins, ‘Pacific (2018)’ (2019) 1 Yearbook of International Disaster Law, 366, 367.


See ‘History’ Pacific Community <>.


This is despite the fact that the UK retains a small colonial toe hold in the region through the Pitcarin Islands, an isolated archipelago, accessible only by sea, which remain a British Overseas Territory.


See W. John Hopkins, ‘Regional Disaster: Risk Reduction is there a Pacific Way’ (2020) 27 Canterbury Law Review, 27.


Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.


Australia’s involvement in the blackbirding trade (a form of slavery that persisted until the 1930s) remains controversial, in addition to its role as former colonial power in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. New Zealand’s behaviour during its time as the colonial power in Samoa led to a formal apology from the New Zealand government in 2002.


The term “metropolitan” is used to describe developed states in the Pacific region. Although originally applied to all the former colonial powers the term is now primarily used as a collective term for Australia and New Zealand.


Hopkins (n 14) 28.


MU Tupouniua, ‘Director’s Annual Report 1975/1976’, South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation (May 1976) 30.


Aitutaki Declaration on Regional Security Cooperation [1997] PITSE 11 (adopted 19 September 1997), annex 2(2).


Hopkins (n 11) 367–368.


See Pacific Community (SPC), ‘Regional Synthesis Report on the Implementation of the Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Framework for Action 2005–2016 (RFA) and the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change 2006–2016 (PIFACC)’ (2016) at <>.


The category of PIC s is often extended to that of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICT s) in order to include non-independent territories, such as French Polynesia (FRA) or American Samoa (US). These terms are not strictly defined and vary depending upon the instrument concerned.


To address this, the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP), explored below, explicitly states that reporting requirements will not be in addition to the existing international frameworks (UNFCCC, the Sendai Framework for DRR and the Sustainable Development Goals) to avoid additional reporting burdens. See Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific 2017–2030 (2016) 27.


Pacific Community (n 21) 9. ‘PIMS 2012–2021: Sustaining Weather and Climate Services in Pacific Island Countries and Territories’ available at <>. This has been superseded by the 2017–2026 PIMS available here: <>.


Pacific Community (n 22) 12.


Ibid., 16.


Ibid., 13.


Ibid., 14.


Ibid., 26.


Ibid., 31.


Ibid., 31.


See, for example, the Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology. See also the new national frameworks developed through Joint National Action Plans (JNAP s) throughout the region, starting with Tonga in 2010, JNAP Development and Implementation in the Pacific: Experiences, Lessons and Way Forward (SPREP 2013) 9.


See the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific – An Integrated Approach to Address Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (FRDP): 2017–2030, (2016) 12, available here <>.


Ibid., 8.


Ibid., 3. The FRDP recognises the Pacific Resilience Partnership (PRP) as the body that will translate it ‘from paper to action’, engaging with different stakeholder groups at a regional and national level. The establishment of the PRP was agreed by the foreign ministers of PIF member states in 2015, which envisioned it as a platform to bring together different communities of practice (e.g., CCA and DRR).


The original date was February 2022 but at the time of writing no draft strategy has been released.


Pacific Islands Forum 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent Frequently Asked Questions (Pacific Islands Forum, September 2021).


Hopkins (n 11) 368. The text of the ‘Boe Declaration on Regional Security’ is available here <>.


Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, ‘Action Plan to Implement the Boe Declaration on Regional Security’ (Boe Declaration Action Plan) (2018), available at <>.


Ibid., Strategic Focus Area 2 (vi).


For an overview, see W. John Hopkins and Finau Leveni, ‘International Disaster Response Law in the Pacific’ (IFRC 2020), available at <>.


Ibid., Strategic Focus Area 2 (viii).


See W. John Hopkins, ‘Soft Obligations and Hard Realities: Regional Disaster Risk in Europe and Asia’ in Katja L.H. Samuel, Marie Aronsson-Storrier and Kirsten Nakjavani Bookmiller (eds), The Cambridge Handbook on Disaster Risk Reduction and International Law (CUP 2019) 219.


In particular, in providing aid during the Rohinga (Myanmar) and Marawi (Philippines) crises.


See further Pacific Islands Forum, ‘Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19 (PHP-C) Common Protocols’, available at <>.


In 2017, PIC s leaders endorsed a PRP governance structure consisting of a PRP Taskforce, the Pacific Resilience Meeting, PRP Support Unit, and PRP technical working groups (TWG), with Leaders providing overall strategic guidance, see <>.


Republic of Nauru, ‘National Disaster Risk Management Act’, N.2 of 2017, art. 16.


Ibid., art. 19.


The Commonwealth, IFRC and PIF, ‘Legislating for Climate Smart Disaster Risk Management in the Pacific’ – Report Summary (2016) 11.


See IFRC, ‘Legal Preparedness for Regional and International Disaster Assistance in the Pacific’, Country Profiles (2020) 51.


See PIF, ‘Forty-Third Pacific Islands Forum Rarotonga’, Cook Islands 28–30 August 2012, Forum Communiqué PIFS (12) 10, para. 73, available here <>. The ‘IDRL Guidelines’, drafted and later adopted in 2007 by the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (see Resolution 4), are available at <>. Since 2007, 37 countries in the world have adopted new laws, policies or procedures drawing on the IDRL Guidelines, following the call made in numerous resolutions by the UN General Assembly and ECOSOC (UNGA Resolutions 65/264 and 65/133 of 2010, 64/251 and 64/76 of 2009, and 63/141, 63/139 and 63/137 of 2008 and ECOSOC Resolutions 2010/1 of 2010, 2009/3 of 2009, and 2008/36 of 2008).


Republic of Nauru (n 50) art. 36.


Ibid., art. 37.


Ibid., art. 42.


Ibid., arts. 55–75.


Ibid., arts. 42–49. For an overview on the history and relevance of the Sphere tools for the provision of humanitarian assistance see Tommaso Natoli, ‘Non-State Humanitarian Actors and human rights in disaster scenarios. Normative role, standard setting and accountability’, in Flavia Zorzi Giustiniani, Emanuele Sommario, Federico Casolari and Giulio Bartolini (eds), Routledge handbook of human rights and disasters (Routledge 2018) 153–155.


Republic of Vanuatu, Disaster Risk Management Act N.23 of 2019.


See IFRC, PIF, PRP, UNDRR, ‘Risk Governance for Resilient Development in the Pacific’ – Meetings Report (2020) 3.


The Commonwealth, IFRC and PIF (n 52) 20.


Republic of Vanuatu (n 60) arts. 21.2 (i) and 27 (f).


Ibid., 37–39.


See IFRC and UCC, ‘Law and Policies that Protect the Most Vulnerable Against Climate- Related Disaster Risks: Findings and Lessons Learned from Pacific Island Countries’ (Geneva 2020) 35.


IFRC et al., 2020 (n 61) 18. A Draft of the Bill is on file with the author.


See declaration by the Acting Director of the National Disaster Management Office Ms Litiana Bainimarama, on Fiji’s Disaster Management Plan Under Review (2019) available here <>.


IFRC et al., 2020 (n 61) 18.


UNISDR, UNDP, ‘Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in the Pacific: An Institutional and Policy Analysis’ (Fiji 2012) 22.


FRDP (n 34) 15 (f).


See IFRC and UCC (n 65) 23.


For an overview on this event and its outcomes see Tommaso Natoli, ‘The 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (2019)’ (2020) 2 YIDL, 383–392.


33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (Geneva 2019) Resolution 7, 33IC/19/R7 (2019) para. 1.


ICRC and IFRC, ‘The 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (2019) – Report of the Conference’ (2020) 403, available at <>.


Ibid., 4.10.4 – Adoption of Resolutions, 424–429.


See, among the most recent and relevant, IFRC, World Disasters Report 2020 (2021); OECD, Common Ground Between the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework: Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction (2020); ECOSOC (UN Economic and Social Council) ECOSOC Resolution E/2019/L.18, 20 June 2019 (2019) paras. 22–26; UNDRR, Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (2019) 355–382; UNFCCC, Opportunities and options for integrating climate change adaptation with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, Technical Paper by the Secretariat (2017).


See IFRC and UCC (n 65) 25.


See on this Aaron Atteridge and Nella Canales, ‘Climate finance in the Pacific: An overview of flows to the region’s Small Island Developing States’, Stockholm Environment Institute Working Paper No. 2017–04 (2017).


UNFCCC, ‘Report of the Conference of the Parties on its sixteenth session, held in Cancun from 29 November to 10 December 2010’, UN Doc FCCC/CP/2010/7/Add.1, Decision 1/CP.16, The Cancun Agreements: Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention, paras. 11–35.


Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2015) art. 7.9, letter (b).


Government of the Republic of Fiji, ‘National Adaptation Plan – A pathway towards climate resilience’ (2018), available at <>.


Government of Kiribati, ‘Joint Implementation Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management’ (KJIP 2, 2019–2028) available at <>.


Government on Tonga, ‘Joint National Action Plan 2 on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management – JNAP2 (2018–2028)’, available at <>.


Republic of Fiji (n 81) 9, recognising that ‘[i]ntegrating disaster risk reduction with climate change adaptation supports the NAP process to be consistent with calls for their integration under the UNFCCC, SDG s, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’.


Ibid., 46.


Ibid., adaptation measure #8.8, 48.


Government of Kiribati (n 82) 62.


Ibid., 69 (emphasis added).




Ibid., 101.


With specific regards to the post-2015 documents, these include: the Tonga ‘Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management’ (JNAP2) 2018–2028; the Vanuatu ‘Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Policy 2016–2030’; the Cook Islands ‘2nd Joint National Action Plan 2016–2020’; and the Palau ‘Climate Change Policy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Low Emissions Development (2015)’. In some cases, such as the Samoa ‘National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Management 2017–2021’, the countries’ authorities decided to adopt a more DRM-focus, although not excluding the considerations of climate change impacts.


See IFRC et al. (n 61) 11.


Graeme Dobell, ‘Micronesia’s exit from the Pacific Islands Forum’ (7 February 2022) Australia Strategic Policy Institute, at <>.


In February 2022, the Micronesian states announced a last-minute decision to delay their departure pending the implementation of an unspecified compromise deal. See < -fsm-puna/100825620>.


Tammy Tabe, ‘Climate Change Migration and Displacement: Learning from Past Relocations in the Pacific’ (2019) 8 Social Sciences (Bassel), 218.


Thea Philip, ‘Climate Change Displacement and Migration: An Analysis of the Current International Legal Regime’s Deficiency, Proposed Solutions and a Way Forward for Australia’ (2018) 19 Melbourne Journal of International Law, 640.


See IPCC, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (CUP 2014).


Jakob Schou Kupferberg, ‘Migration and dignity – relocation and adaptation in the face of climate change displacement in the Pacific – a human rights perspective’ (2021) 25/10 The International Journal of Human Rights, 1794.

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