Climate risk profile: Pacific Islands - Fact Sheet

from US Agency for International Development
Published on 10 Jul 2018 View Original


USAID’s Pacific Islands region is comprised of twelve countries spread across 3,500 miles in the Southern Pacific Ocean, all facing significant challenges from a changing climate. The region is vulnerable to events such as tropical storms, drought, and extreme rainfall, as well as longer term hardships related to sea level rise. Iconic for climate impacts both in collective consciousness and in the scientific community, the region’s many low elevation atolls risk complete loss to rising sea levels. The highly visible impacts of climate change to both policymakers and residents ensure prioritization of climate resilience planning and adaptation. However, economic conditions in the region limit preventive measures. Human development indices vary throughout the region, with poverty rates ranging from the upper 30s to single digits. Islanders engage in subsistence agriculture (typically contributing one-fifth to half of household income) or otherwise live well outside of the cash economy. Gross national income per capita (GNI) ranges from $1,120 per year in Solomon Islands to $9,240 in Palau, with an average of $3,940 across the region. Economic drivers among the islands also vary; other than Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Nauru, the islands significantly rely on agriculture, with crop production comprising over a quarter of gross domestic product (GDP) for Vanuatu, Kiribati, and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and over a third of GDP for the Solomon Islands. Industries, such as palm oil processing and mining, contribute 43% and 33% to the GDP of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, respectively. Most of the region relies heavily on tourism and related industries. Climate change also poses threats to the region’s tourism industry through impacts on coastal infrastructure, coral reefs, and coastal ecosystems. (1,6,27,28,31)