Australia’s Climate Change Minister Visits Community Resilience Project in Nadaro, Fiji

August 23, 2023

Australia's Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, in Nadaro Village, Fiji.

Photo: UNDP

Nadaro, Fiji: Australia’s Minister for Climate Change and Energy has underscored his government's commitment to supporting locally led solutions to combating climate change and reducing disaster risk.

On a visit to Fiji, the Hon Chris Bowen saw firsthand the work of the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management (MRMDDM) supported by the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom, in partnership with the UNDP Pacific Office.

Minister Bowen acknowledged the urgency of climate change as the greatest threat to Pacific livelihoods, security and overall wellbeing. He praised the Gov4Res project as a positive example of Pacific countries working together to build resilience at community level with localised solutions.

"This week I have had the opportunity to spend time with counterparts and colleagues from across the region, hearing Pacific perspectives and learning about regional priorities for climate action. Australia is proud to support the Government of Fiji and our Pacific family in programs like this one, which makes a tangible difference in people's lives," he said. 

In Nadaro, where heavy rainfall often leads to flash flooding, essential services such as schools, healthcare and markets are often inaccessible. The Governance for Resilient Development in the Pacific (Gov4Res) project, is working to enhance their ability to withstand and recover from the impacts of climate change and disasters.

The work in Nadaro – co-financed by the Gov4Res project at a total cost of approximately FJ$45,000 – saw the upgrade of a 30-metre foot bridge that benefits 35 households and over 230 people from the local community, providing a safe and secure route of passage for subsistence farmers, schoolchildren, persons with disabilities, and those in need of access to village healthcare services – particularly pregnant women within the community.  

MRMDDM Permanent Secretary, Isoa Talemaibua, said that the Government of Fiji are working on embedding risk informed development into their developmental policies and guidelines.

“Through our partnership with UNDP Gov4Res, we have made it our commitment to ensure that risk informed development should be at the core of all our rural development aspirations. Risk informed development ensures that all work is resilience focused, ensuring its long-term sustainability.

“Fiji and our neighbouring Pacific Island countries need ambitious adaptation financing now more than ever to address the impacts of climate change and disaster. We must support efforts to integrate climate risk into all aspects of national financial planning and decision-making, to take ownership and drive decision making on climate change and disaster,” he said. 

In Nadaro, where heavy rainfall often leads to flash flooding, essential services such as schools, healthcare and markets are now accessible year round thanks to the construction of a new foot bridge.

Photo: UNDP

To date, Gov4Res has co-financed 89 risk-informed community development projects to a value of FJ$3.2 million. Over 14,000 people in rural communities are estimated to have benefitted from these projects, with the Ministry working on embedding risk informed development into policies and guidelines to ensure direct support is provided to communities who need it most.

Spanning climate change to social inequality, the opportunities and challenges communities are continuing to confront are particularly pronounced within the context of Fiji and the broader Pacific region. This work by the Government of Fiji highlights the partnerships and investment needed to accelerate climate action in the Pacific.

UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative, Tuya Altangerel, said the project is specific to the needs and circumstances of each community it works in.

“The Gov4Res project is built on the understanding that Pacific Island communities can bolster their resilience to climate change and disasters by embracing risk-informed development. We know that local solutions work best, and we extend gratitude to our partners such as the Australian Government and particularly the Government of Fiji for their understanding that a one-size-fits-all approach isn't suitable for when it comes to fighting climate change and boosting resilient development,” she said.

The Gov4Res project works with Pacific Island governments to ensure that countries adapt their decision making and governance systems towards more resilient development. The project is supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

This collaboration reflects a broader commitment to fostering climate resilience in Fiji and the Pacific region, one community at a time.

For further media enquiries please contact:

Nick Turner, Communications and Advocacy Specialist, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. (P) +679 971 6458 - (E)