This 2nd Pacific Resilience Meeting has once again brought together a cross section of partners from government, the private sector, civil society organisations, development agencies, local/ national/ regional and international organisations, youth and community representatives. It necessarily had to be a virtual get together as we combat the Covid19 pandemic. In that though, we demonstrate another form of resilience that requires that we continue to push our own boundaries to ensure that the important discussions and decisions concerning the Pacific region continue to be held. As the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, the Honourable Kausea Natano, said in his Opening address, the challenge of the Covid19 pandemic provides an opportunity to work smarter and collaboratively, using both traditional and modern knowledge and practice. It is apt, therefore, that the theme for PRM 2021 is ‘Our People, Our Journey: Nurturing Pacific Resilience from Home’.
May I take this opportunity to thank the Prime Minister for his inspiring words, and the people of Tuvalu for their beautiful cultural performance to welcome us into the PRM space.
There have been approximately 1000 participants, navigating the virtual world of the PRM 2021.
We kicked off our gathering with our young people, in the PRM Youth Forum - a key part of the ‘Include’ pillar. We have just heard the outcomes of that Forum and I commend the youth of the Pacific for their insights and the work that they continue to do to build a resilient and strong region. It also reaffirms the integral role that youth and children play in behavioural change and strengthening resilience.
Our plenaries set the scene for each day: We were reminded that:
- individual and collective self reliance is a precondition of resilience;
- resilience is multidimensional,
- trust and relationships are critical for resilience, and
- tradition and faith build trust and relationships.
We recognised the need for sustained engagement at all levels by all stakeholders individually and collaboratively and especially youth and children, to lead and support behavioural change using relevant approaches and mediums.
We reaffirmed the value of multi stakeholder partnerships that are transformative and deliver innovative, sustainable, effective and resilient development initiatives.
In our sessions, we concentrated our efforts around the four standards or pillars of resilience which are:
1. To integrate policy and practice in addressing climate change and disaster risk. In this, we recognised the challenges in integration but also reaffirmed our commitment to using integrated approaches as these ensure national to community level resilience. This is particularly important during this Covid19 pandemic, which gives us the opportunity to be creative and innovative in preparing for a sustainable and community-focused, post pandemic boom. In this we acknowledged the importance of disaster risk financing as a tool for both addressing national and sub-national disaster response, and in addressing inequality and poverty. To this end we commend the establishment of inclusive, national level disaster risk finance networks.
2. To include the whole of society with particular emphasis on the needs and rights of those in vulnerable situations including women, youth, children and people living with disabilities. In this, we recognised that community knowledge and action enhances humanitarian response to crises. This was illustrated through our discussions on the complex and intersectional impacts of multiple crises faced by women, particularly women with disabilities, women in rural and isolated areas and transgender women. Recognising that the Covid19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing issues of vulnerability, exposure and risk, we encourage greater action to strengthen diverse women’s leadership, including the facilitation of regular, open and frank dialogue to help dismantle biases that prohibit the acceptance of diverse opinions and the equality of all groups. And we looked to the examples of local, women-led gender-responsive and disability-inclusive approaches as a means of strengthening resilience. We acknowledged the barriers faced by persons with disabilities hindering them from becoming active agents for transformation and resilience and emphasized the need for more inclusive approaches particularly in terms of health, safety and protection. We also acknowledged the role of youth in disseminating information using creativity and accessible technology and platforms, and being responders and front-line workers in the Covid19 crisis; recognising that in order for youth to contribute effectively they need access to the space and to support.
3. To inform resilience building through traditional knowledge and practices and the gathering and use of contemporary data. We noted the importance of easily understood, interpreted and communicated early warnings and risk information, in disaster preparation, and ultimately in behavioural change. We acknowledged the resilience building that exists within traditional wisdom and practices, with the view of inspiring the next generation of practitioners to recognise knowledge holders and to document and use those practices. We also discussed using new technology and platforms to analyse big data, to disseminate information in easily accessible and understandable ways and ultimately to build resilience across all sections of society.
4. To sustain resilience building through incorporating ecosystem management, addressing root causes of vulnerability, strengthening preparedness and promoting low carbon development. In this, we reflected on the simultaneous epidemics of Covid19, natural & human induced disasters and climate change affecting our region. We explored further the resilience wisdom and practices provided in Pacific traditional knowledge that have enabled our communities to endure multiple risks and to build back sustainably. We also looked at how this green resilience and emphasis on a people centred approach, has supported communities during Covid19, which in turn provides a ‘green print’ for the future. Furthermore, we acknowledged the significant efforts to introduce and sustain low carbon development initiatives at national and community level, emphasising that greater levels of resilient and sustainable development could be achieved if we combine low carbon development policies and practices alongside other resilience initiatives, such as those found in nature-based solutions.
PRM 2021 has also had four Learning Labs that provided opportunities for knowledge exchange and network building. These Labs explored disaster data collection, integration practice, climate justice and multi-stakeholder partnerships.
We can all agree that even in these trying times, we have successfully met to share, explore and discuss ideas and best practices in building a resilient Pacific. I thank you for your engaging participation and your continued commitment to our region. I also thank the partners, the speakers and the organising committee for PRM 2021. With these words, it is my honour to bring the 2nd Pacific Resilience Meeting to a close. May you all continue to be safe in these tough times, remembering that we are a resilient people. Thank you.