PACIFIC Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are among the most vulnerable in the world to natural disasters, delegates at the Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women's Association (PPSEAWA) were told yesterday.
Keynote speaker Doctor Russel Howorth, former director of the Applied Geo-Science & Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, said Pacific SIDS may be described as "resilient social systems which can succumb to a "knock-out" event at any time".
"There is no doubt that disasters in the Pacific SIDS region are becoming more intense and probably more frequent," Mr Howorth said.
Citing a 2005 World Bank study, he said without adaptation, a high island such as Viti Levu could experience damage of up to $US52million ($F98m) per year by 2050.
He also spoke on other issues being faced by the Pacific such as water and food security, climate change, good governance and human rights, and the impact of these factors on sustainable development.
He highlighted the need for improved data, information and knowledge management tools to combat the issues facing the Pacific Islands.
Sesilina Palu, who is part of the Tongan delegation, said she found the presentation interesting and impressive, adding it made her see the importance in taking the information and communicating it from grassroots level in Tonga.
Marie McCann and Susan Levy of the Australian delegation said the presentation highlighted the challenges that Pacific nations faced in terms of handling natural disasters, which was in accordance with the environmental theme of the conference.