Not only is Vanuatu one of the fifth most climate change-affected country on earth, it is the world’s most at-risk for natural hazards, and is particularly vulnerable to cyclones, earthquakes, drought, flooding and tsunamis. Pacific nations made up five of the top 10 spots in the 2018 World Risk Index, with Fiji ranking tenth.
“It’s great to see the Prime Minister visit Vanuatu in particular – the first time a PM has since Bob Hawke in 1990 – and we welcome Australia’s increased focus on the Pacific and development outcomes for one of our nearest neighbours,” Save the Children Director of Policy and International Programs, Mat Tinkler said.
“However, we urge the Prime Minister to use the trip to restart Australia’s contributions to the Green Climate Fund, to ensure our Pacific neighbours have the resources they need to protect themselves – and especially children – from the devastating effects of climate change.
“Save the Children works in Vanuatu and we see the impact of climate change every day. We saw the destruction storms like Cyclone Pam in 2015 and Cyclone Winston in 2016 brought to the region. And we hear growing concerns about rising sea levels and increasingly unpredictable weather.
“With the announcement that the budget is predicted to return to surplus, now is the time for Australia to increase support for Pacific nations in our shared fight against climate change.”
Regarding aid delivery in general in the Pacific, Mr Tinkler said Australia should also look to partner with, rather than compete against, other countries like China – the second largest aid donor in the world.
“We’ve seen Australia and China work together with Papua New Guinea on malaria with strong results. Save the Children wants to see us learn from that historic partnership and apply it to other areas like early childhood education and child malnutrition,” Mr Tinkler said.
“The Pacific is home to some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. Not only does malnutrition pose a threat to the survival and development of children in the Pacific, it also poses a major threat to sustainable economic growth.”
“With new funding and focus on the Pacific, Australia has an opportunity provide an even greater level of support to our regional neighbours. Not only is it in our national interest, but it’s the right thing to do,” Mr Tinkler said.
Save the Children has been working in the Pacific for decades, and works in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji.
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