Country

Marshall Islands

Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting Marshall Islands.

Adaptation

The Republic of the Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Authority (RMIEPA) is the national focal point for climate change activities, though the Republic of the Marshall Islands Ministry of Resources and Development (R&D) will bear the burden of preparing much of the adaptation and response to the impacts of climate change as they arise. Marshall Island's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution proposes to implement urgent measures to build resilience, improve disaster risk preparedness and response, and adapt to the increasingly serious adverse impacts of climate change. It commits to further developing and enhancing the existing adaptation framework to build upon integrated disaster risk management strategies, including through development and implementation of a national adaptation plan. Planned actions are in the energy, environment, social development and transport sectors. 

Adaptation Options for Key Sectors

  • Increase water supply (e.g. by using groundwater, building reservoirs, improving or stabilizing watershed management, desalination) and water efficiency.
  • Decrease water demand through conservation measures, leakage reduction, dual water supply systems, and economic development.
  • Build flexibility into the water-provisioning systems to address future climate change.
  • Improve water management infrastructure and planning. 
  • Decrease artificial breeding sites for potential vectors by covering water containers or using of alternative storage facilities.
  • Prevent mosquito entry to the country through stricter port controls and quarantine regulations.
  • Prevent exposure to vector-borne diseases through improved house design and the use of mosquito nets.
  • Plant shade trees to reduce heat stress.
  • Conduct awareness-raising activities on the potential impacts of climate change on health, including projected changes in the outbreaks of water- and insect-borne diseases, as well as appropriate response mechanisms for dealing with these.
  • Enhance protection by building sea walls and beach nourishment; in some cases the best adaptation option is notably a limited retreat from the coastal areas, while in others resettlement to other areas may need to take place.
  • Implement an integrated coastal resources management plan.
  • Improve understanding of the impact of temperature rise and ocean acidification on coral habitats.

Gaps and Needs

  • Research is required on the links between climate change and diseases in the context of small islands, including the collection of robust baseline data sets that offer a village perspective on current and potential impacts.
  • Water supply and demand studies need to be conducted across the country. Responding to climate change in the water sector is hampered by a limited understanding of how water supplies will be impacted by rising temperatures. Research is desperately required on the links between climate change and water resources in the context of small islands.
  • Detailed assessments of climate change impacts and risks across a variety of sectors are required in order to develop sound response strategies, in particular focusing on food security, water resources, and coastal resources.
  • Almost no work has been done to downscale climate models to individual islands. Realistically, it may not be possible to derive more accurate climate change information due to the small size of these islands, however, more work needs to be done to address the “island dilemma”. New information should be credible and useful to decision making at the island scale.
  • A very limited instrumental record makes extensive analyses of the natural variability of cyclones difficult.
  • Overall applied research assistance is required to properly establish an island-specific and robust baseline from which to gauge projected changes and impacts.
  • The limited integration of disaster risk reduction and climate change consideration into development activities needs to be addressed by strengthening coordination among the country’s relevant institutions. This includes improving the country’s capacity for emergency preparedness and response at all levels.
  • Responding to climate change requires that a significant effort is made to raise education and awareness regarding current and projected climate variability and change. Integrating climate change into formal education curricula as well as community awareness programs could help in meeting these goals.
  • The technical and financial capacities of existing institutions need to be augmented to address the needs of the country’s more remote islands — in particular to adequately train and equip those responsible for addressing climate change risks, as well as future managers of new projects on climate change.
  • Legislative policies and development activities need to take into account climate change. For example, existing infrastructure projects need to be properly climate-proofed to deal with projected climate risks.
  • There is a general lack of sector-specific data, especially on tuna fisheries and water demand, which needs to be addressed in order to develop appropriate response measures.
  • Addressing sea level and storm surge risks will require the use and interpretation of the information that is coming out of the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project. 
  • The use of existing meteorological information is limited to specific agencies, and this information needs to be tailored to decision makers across a wider series of sectors, including water resources management.
  • The country’s First National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change points to the need to develop appropriate information management systems to collate and monitor available information.