Understanding Risk Finance Pacific Forum – Vanuatu

The Understanding Risk Finance Pacific Forum was recently held in Vanuatu, with policymakers, financial risk managers and development partners from the region and around the globe converging upon Port Vila to strengthen regional collaboration in the Pacific.

Co-organised by the Government of Vanuatu’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) and the World Bank’s Disaster Risk and Insurance Program (DRFIP), the URF Pacific Forum was conducted over four days with discussion and in-depth sessions focusing on technical, policy and interactive training, showcasing innovative approaches to government action, community engagement and private sector solutions.

Two key themes and three key objectives were identified in order to create lasting change in the Disaster Risk Reduction space:


  1. Understanding Risk – improving the way in which risk information is gathered, analysed and communicated.
  2. Building Financial Resilience – planning ahead to better manage the financial and humanitarian impact of disasters.


  1. Strengthen collaboration – on climate and disaster risk finance among Pacific Island Countries (PIC) and across Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
  2. Provide opportunities for knowledge exchange among countries and between regional organisations.
  3. Capture best practices and identify collaboration on disaster risk finance and insurance among PICs and global partners.

Tonkin + Taylor’s Technical Director of DRR and Climate Resilience, Dr Bapon Fakhruddin, was present at the Forum, acting as Speaker on Pacific Early Warning Systems (EWS) in a session on Multi-Hazard Impact Based Early Warning Systems.

“Science has made advancements but we have not yet been able to incorporate advanced science in operational decision making”, Dr Fakhruddin says. “Many of the operational forecasting information is still not able to reach the area of the community at risk”.

Early warning systems are a major element in disaster risk reduction through the emphasis on disaster preparedness. Despite considerable advances in predictive technologies, hydro-meteorological and geo-hazards continue to claim many thousands of lives while wreaking irreparable damage upon homes, businesses and critical infrastructure. This continuously results in leaving impoverished economies in their destructive wake.

In recent years, it has become clear that sustained and efficient investment in multi-hazard early warning systems is vital. This is particularly relevant in Least Developing Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States. Along with this, the need to strengthen access and availability to early warnings is also reiterated in the Sendai Framework, the Paris Climate Change Agreements and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

An early warning is the provision of timely and effective information. This can be delivered through identified institutions, which then inform individuals exposed to hazard to take action to avoid or reduce their risk and prepare for effective response. The integration of each element with equal strength is critical for the success of the EWS. One weak element can cause failure of the overall system.

Reflecting on the URf, Dr Fakhruddin says, “When communicating warnings, the information suppliers need to use language that is not overly technical or scientific. The suppliers need to keep the audience of the warnings in mind, including their level of understanding and knowledge, to ensure maximum clarity is achieved”.

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