FOR many Small Island Developing states (SIDS) in the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific the impact of natural disasters and climate change is real.
The recent devastation caused by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji reiterates why SIDS require specific assistance and points to the need to better "climate-proof" development projects in these economies.
Both the 2014 Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which took place in Samoa, and the 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, recognised the vulnerability of countries to natural disasters but importantly also highlighted the shared responsibility of the state, the private sector and the development community in the recovery effort.
Severe TC Winston has disrupted Fiji's development path much like in 2015, when Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu and other Pacific Islands. Having learnt from previous cyclones, Fiji's National Disaster Management Office in partnership with other government and United Nations agencies were in action before, during and immediately after the passage of the storm. Their work saved countless lives and prized possessions.
The response has also been swift from Fiji's traditional development partners such as Australia, New Zealand and the European Union, but also from China, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and other smaller islands in the region. As I make my first visit to Fiji as executive director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), my aim will be to see where ITC can be of assistance and help to rebuild the economy.
This first official visit to Fiji was initially planned as an opportunity to open new facilities developed through ITC's EU-funded projects to increase farmer incomes and exports for the Ra Province, and inaugurate new pasture management systems for sugar-belt livestock farmers. Together with Fiji's Ministry of Agriculture, the Pacific Community, community leaders and enterprise partners we had laid the foundations for a regeneration of Fijian agriculture.
Before Severe TC Winston, ITC and its project partners in Fiji had brought more than 700 farmers, their families and communities to a new level of production and income. These people had invested their time, effort and savings, and had just started to reap the rewards when the disaster struck. Now they have lost everything except the know-how and organisational structure imparted through the projects. More