Seruiratu calls for SIDS solidarity

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Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu speaking during the Fifth Edition of the World Reconstruction Conference Pre – Disaster Recovery Planning at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Bali, Indonesia. Picture: FIJIAN GOVERNMENT

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) should stand in solidarity to ensure their voices are heard across global platforms and key disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation events, says Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu during the Disaster Risk Reduction Conference in Indonesia.

“As we discuss disaster risk issues that are relevant to us, let me remind us all that we need an emphasis on a ‘people and community-centered approach’ to sustainably strengthen our resilience,” he said.

“The buzz phrase that I have been hearing throughout this week is ‘breaking SILOs, and so this forum will help to facilitate that process by unpacking issues that we face and will help to formulate the overall outcome statement that will be presented to UNDRR.”

He said more than 70 per cent of Fiji’s populations resided within 5km from the coastline and since 2016, had 13 significant disasters.

“These include stronger cyclones, heavier floods, longer droughts, and the looming threat of sea level rise and we know, these impacts will continue to increase in coming years.

“The renowned Category 5 super cyclone Winston that made landfall in Fiji in 2016 was documented as the Southern Hemisphere’s strongest-ever storm.

“In 36 hours, the value of 1/3 of our GDP was wiped away, 44 lives were lost, 40,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and 350 schools were flattened.”