News Item

​Building resilience to El Niño

21 Jul 2017

The European Union (EU) and the Pacific Community (SPC) have signed an agreement in a joint effort to build resilience to future El Niño related droughts in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) and Republic of Palau.

At the end of last year, the EU confirmed its decision to mobilise €4.5 million from the European Development Fund (EDF) global reserve for FSM, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and Palau to help build resilience for future El Niño events.

The funds follow the severe impacts of the 2015 –2016 El Niño related drought in the three Northern Pacific countries, especially in the outer islands, when disruptions to agriculture, tourism and industrial production caused severe economic losses.

Many households faced food and water shortages, and the provision of health and education services was severely impacted.

Head of Infrastructure and Natural Resources at the Delegation of the EU for the Pacific Jesús Lavina says the EU is committed to supporting Pacific countries face the negative impact of climate change.

Extreme events such as the 2015-2016 El Niño severely affected the Pacific region.

In response, the EU works together with partner governments and regional organisations to answer in a timely manner their urgent needs.

The European Union North Pacific Readiness for El Niño project is a clear example of EU commitment covering a large range of EU funded actions to strengthen resilience and promote climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

Meanwhile, SPC is implementing the project and it is preparing to hold consultations with the North Pacific countries to design activities to build resilience to future droughts in the water and agriculture sectors.

Director-General of SPC Dr Colin Tukuitonga says the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, SPC, is very pleased to help build capacity in the three Northern Pacific countries to strengthen resilience and readiness for future El Niño related droughts.

“Past experience has shown these events have caused so many hardships for all residents, both those living in towns and those in rural communities,” Dr Tukuitonga says.

The 2015 – 2016 El Niño event was one of the most severe on record, comparable with the 1997-1998 and 1982-1983 events, and it impacted millions of people around the world including most of those countries located in the Pacific region.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the tropical Pacific Ocean is in a neutral phase with neither El Niño or La Niña expected to influence the climate this year.

Visit SPC and the EU websites for more information.