When it comes to disasters, climate change and the environment, the Solomon Islands is one of the South Pacific’s most vulnerable countries.

Bridges, schools, clinics, hospitals, fisheries, footpaths and roads, water supplies, sea walls, office complexes, and crops are just a few examples of infrastructure and development subject to risk.

To help combat this, a Risk Resilient Development Toolkit is being developed to help decision-makers factor risk into their planning.

Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination (MDPAC) is producing this toolkit in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), the Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP), Community Resilience to Climate and Disaster Risk in Solomon Islands Project (CRISP), and other partners.

“This kit will havea range of tools for community, provincial, and government-level planners,including risk screeningguidelines that help determine risks surrounding a project,” said MDPAC Risk Resilient Development Officer, Jack Filiomea.

He said the toolkit includes simple approaches to identify ways to manage many risks associated with a project.

“Risk-reduction measures could include moving a hospital away from a high-risk area, introducing flood tolerant crops, or cyclone-proofing a school,” he said.

“When considering risk, we are taking a holistic view of disaster, climate change and the environment”.

Risk can go both ways as a project can cause risk or face risk, according to Mr Filiomea.

“We aren’t just looking at risks a development project faces, for example a new school built by the coast might be at risk from rising sea levels or tsunamis.”

“We also want to make sure the project itself doesn’t pose a risk,” he said.

One common example Mr. Filiomea gave of this in the Solomon Islands is removing mangroves and coastal vegetation in order to build a road or bridge.

“This kind of vegetation often provides the shoreline with a buffer, and removing this buffer can make surrounding communities more vulnerable to storm surges and sea level rise.”

The PRRP is a risk governance programme being delivered through a partnership between the Australian Government Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and international NGO Live and Learn Environmental Education.

The PRRP is helping to build national and regional risk governance to improve the resilience of Pacific communities. It is being delivered in four Pacific island countries: Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga and Fiji.

Press Release: PRRP