Pacific Island countries are among the most vulnerable in the world, and in the 1990s alone natural disasters cost the Pacific Islands region US$2.8 billion. With the climate trend for the Pacific pointing to more extreme conditions Pacific Island countries have little choice but to develop comprehensive risk management plans.The authors identify three major constraints on the adoption of natural hazard risk management strategies:perverse incentives: donors will respond generously to disaster despite no preventative efforts being taken and risk management may unfavourably compete with short-term domestic prioritiespoor institutional arrangements: risk management has not been mainstreamed into national economic planning and efforts are located in junior or weak government ministriesinstruments: there is inadequate emphasis on awareness and inadequate support for tools such as vulnerability mapping.The most appropriate scale for adaptation in the Pacific extends from community to national levels and involves multiple sectors, requiring a long term, programmatic approach. Despite there being little experience in implementing risk management strategies for the natural hazards affecting the Pacific Islands region, enough evidence is available for the authors to support conclusions that include:the traditional approach of ‘wait and mitigate’ is a less desirable strategy than proactively managing risksmanaging natural hazard risk is affordable and does not need to depend on donorsrisk management is a cross-cutting process demanding leadership and coordination at the highest levels of governmentmainstreaming risk management into policies, plans and programmes is of the highest priority.
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