Fiji is one of the most world’s most vulnerable nations to climate change and climate-related disasters. Climate change will likely cause major adverse environmental, social, cultural, and economic repercussions and, in some cases, already is having detrimental consequences (Second National Communication, 2014). Fiji has extremely high exposure to tropical cyclones. Cyclones usually occur during the November-April wet season and are less common during El Niño periods. Cyclones frequently result in loss of life and cause significant economic damage which has hindered economic growth. Fiji is also particularly exposed to rising sea-levels, floods, and landslides. Work by The Government of Fiji suggests that the scale of flood risk in Fiji is generally underreported due to the number of smaller scale events that go unreported. The accounting of floods conducted by the Government of Fiji suggests significant losses are caused by both fluvial (2.6% of GDP per year) and pluvial (1.6% of GDP per year).
This section provides a summary of key natural hazards and their associated socioeconomic impacts in a given country. And it allows quick evaluation of most vulnerable areas through the spatial comparison of natural hazard data with development data, thereby identifying exposed livelihoods and natural systems.
The charts provide overview of the most frequent natural disaster in a given country and understand the impacts of those disasters on human populations.
Climate change is now recognized to have a significant impact on disaster management efforts and pose a significant threat to the efforts to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable populations. The demands of disaster risk management are such that concise, clear, and reliable information is crucial. The information presented here offers insight into the frequency, impact and occurrence of natural hazards. Source (PDF)
Understanding natural hazard occurrence as well as historical climate conditions, in relation to development contexts, is critical to understanding a country’s historical vulnerability. This tool allows the visualization of different natural hazards or historical climate conditions with socio-economic and development datasets. Select the Development Context and either a Natural Hazard or Climate Condition and overlay horizontally by sliding the toggle left or right to gain a broader sense of historically vulnerable areas.
Data presented under Historical Climate Conditions are reanalysis products derived from ERA5-Land data. ERA5-Land is a global land-surface dataset at 9 km resolution, consistent with atmospheric data from the ERA5 reanalysis from 1950 onward. Climate reanalyses combine past observations with models to generate consistent time series of multiple climate variables. They provide a comprehensive description of the observed climate as it has evolved during recent decades, on 3D grids at sub-daily intervals.
This data has been collected, aggregated and processed by the Climate Resilience Cluster of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative.
- Fiji regularly experiences high maximum temperatures, with an average monthly maximum of around 28°C and an average February maximum of 29°C. The current median probability of a heat wave (defined as a period of 3 or more days where the daily temperature is above the long-term 95th percentile of daily mean temperature) is around 3%.
- Two primary types of drought may affect Fiji, meteorological (usually associated with a precipitation deficit) and hydrological (usually associated with a deficit in surface and subsurface water flow, potentially originating in the region’s wider river basins). At present Fiji faces an annual median probability of severe meteorological drought of around 5%.
- Historical flooding is strongly correlated with La Niña periods, and usually driven by heavy and prolonged precipitation associated with cyclones that causes both surface (pluvial) and river (fluvial) flooding. Flooding is also driven by coastal dynamics, particularly storm surges associated with cyclones, but also swells driven by deep depressions and high-pressure systems in the neighboring seas.
- Climate change is expected to interact with the cyclone hazard in complex ways that are currently poorly understood. Known risks include the effect that sea-level rises have on enhancing the damage caused by cyclone-induced storm surges, and the possibility of increased wind speed and precipitation intensity.
- The accounting of floods conducted by The Government of Fiji suggests significant losses are caused by both fluvial (2.6% of GDP per year) and pluvial (1.6% of GDP per year).
- The Government of Fiji estimates that a 1-in-100 year river flood pushes 12.5% of the population into poverty.
- Tropical cyclones are of major economic significance in Fiji, costing around 5% of GDP every year (The Government of Fiji).
- Drought is likely to remain tightly linked to El Niño years. Cause for concern is flagged by the work of Naumann et al. (2018) who looked at drought probability on regional scales and suggested very high increases in the frequency of severe droughts in the Oceania Region.
- The Government of Fiji highlights that disaster risk and losses are growing in Fiji particularly as a result of the increased exposure of the population.
- Given the large degree of uncertainty around future climate changes in Fiji a focus on disaster risk reduction to present-day risks, including minimizing social vulnerability, and building adaptive capacity, represents a no-regrets approach to tackling climate change.
- Fiji is prone to cyclones and floods, which periodically destroy essential infrastructure. ADB will assist the government to assess climate and disaster risks, and take action to reduce such risks through investments.
- ADB will support Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation and Green Growth as overarching tools for sustainable development.
- ADB will also work with Fiji to explore options for contingent catastrophe financing instruments.
- ADB and the Fijian government are also working towards developing a national framework towards building resilience to climate change and disasters.