Climate change is having significant and damaging effects on communities and economies of the Pacific nations and projected to get worse over the coming decades. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates an additional 250,000 deaths annually between 2030 and 2050 due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress, and over USD two trillion in lost productivity globally.
While climate change estimates are usually forward looking, here in the Pacific the impact is already being felt. Over the last 10 years, our region has lost countless lives and more than USD two billion due to disasters such as cyclones, tsunamis, flooding and droughts. In Fiji alone, annual losses due to extreme weather events could reach 6.5 per cent of GDP by 2050, with more than 32,000 people pushed into hardship every year. Today, our region is in the unenviable situation of having five of the top 15 nations considered most vulnerable to climate change impact. While debate over the existence of climate change continues in some parts of the world, here in the Pacific it has become a fact of life, and mitigating its effects is no longer a matter of politics, but rather one of survival.