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ADB 2019: Building Resilience, Financing Rebuilding, the Challenges

Fiji has been vocal about the need to have funds set aside at international level to as­sist developing nations to deal with natural disaster rehabilita­tion and also to build resilience.
03 May 2019 17:15
ADB 2019: Building Resilience, Financing Rebuilding, the Challenges
From left: Deputy Executive Secretary United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Hongjoo Hahm, Attorney-General and Chair of the Board of Governors Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Tower Insurance Head of Pacific Operations Sarah-Jane Wild and moderator Simon Young at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa on Denarau Island on May 2, 2019. Photo: DEPTFO News

Fiji has been vocal about the need to have funds set aside at international level to as­sist developing nations to deal with natural disaster rehabilita­tion and also to build resilience.

It came as no surprise that a high-level panel discussed this issue yes­terday on the margins of the 52nd Asian Development Bank annual governor’s meet.

Held at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa, the panel deliberated on ac­celerating private sector financing for disaster risk management and climate resilience in the Asia and Pacific region.

Deputy Executive Secretary United Nations Economic and So­cial Commission for Asia and the Pacific Hongjoo Hahm alongside Attorney-General and Chair of the Board of Governors Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Tower Insurance Head of Pacific Operations Sarah-Jane Wild discussed in length what needs to be done, the challenges Governments face and how insur­ance companies are looking at in­novative ways to provide coverage.

The issues:

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had high­lighted that only 12 per cent of Fi­jians have insurance coverage. He further revealed that Government spent in excess of $220million to as­sist home owners rebuild post-TC Winston and floods which devas­tated parts of Western Division the following year.

While Government has managed to spend such huge amounts to as­sist Fijians, this is in no way sus­tainable. Governments nowhere in the world can continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars assisting their citizens year after year to rebuild post-natural disas­ters.

What can be done about this?

Mozambique for example have been hit with two back to back flooding in five weeks.

An idea that Mr Sayed-Khaiyum floated at the panel discussion was how international organisations could provide developing countries or least developed countries some respite on loan repayments after natural disasters. This would assist Governments to utilise those funds in rehabilitation work.

But, the other important issue is the cost of building resilience. An example right here in Fiji is how underground cabling for electric­ity is far more costly compared to the normal poles and cables we see almost everywhere. But, when hurricanes hit, those underground cables will not be knocked down, it will not require rebuilding. What can be done to assist developing nations to build resilience? A lot, actually. International lending in­stitutions should be encouraged to lend for building resilience at lower interest rates.

The role of insurance:

One of the highlights of COP23 was the Drua Incubator. Luxem­bourg had given initial funding towards this initiative which is focussed on finding ways insur­ance companies can play in reha­bilitation, to create products which could be taken up by those who are most vulnerable but are not turned off by high costs.

What now?

As the moderator Simon Young, the Strategic Capital, Science, and Policy Practice Advisor, Wil­lis Towers Watson said, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum has been very vocal about these issues on domestic and international platforms. More leaders need to come out and sup­port this. More developed nations, least developed nations need to get together and become vocal about this issue. Issues are there but so are the solutions.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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