Climate Connections: Disaster Ready & Climate Smart

Through support from DFAT’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Programme the Shifting the Power Coalition is promoting Pacific women’s leadership in humanitarian action, including locally led innovations.


And this year, through DFAT’s Australia Pacific Climate Partnership (APCP) our new program on Young Women and Climate Change is supporting the knowledge, leadership and engagement of a core group of young Pacific Island women to engage in climate services and climate change advocacy.

Young women have begun engaging with Meteorological Services to access climate service information to support their role in inclusive community early warning and preparedness. In August, the virtual project inception workshop brought together 25 young women from the seven implementation partners from Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and ActionAid Australia.

Shifting the Power Coalition member, ActionAid has developed a Gender Responsive Framework for Responding to climate change and related disasters, which promotes an integrated approach to climate change, disasters and gender equality, and has been used as a basis for the project. It specifically promotes four key actions:

  • Supporting women’s participation in policy spaces at all levels;
  • Resourcing women’s networks as key platforms for women’s collective influence;
  • Valuing women’s localised and accumulated knowledge alongside scientific knowledge; and
  • Shifting gender norms across all domains.

This framework is designed to bridge the peace, humanitarian and development nexus and take a more targeted approach rather than one that silos women’s experiences and is extremely important as climate change is driving more extreme weather events including more intense and destructive tropical cyclones.

In late November 2020, the Shifting the Power Coalition Young Women and Climate Change Training of Trainers and Regional Consultation with the support of DFAT’s Australia Pacific Climate Partnership (APCP) set the stage for how young women will be supported to use innovative and accessible technology as well as community outreach to raise awareness and mobilise action on climate change as well as amplify young women’s demands from Pacific Forum Leaders.

Diverse young women leaders, including rural young women and young women with disabilities in Apia, Nadi, Nukualofa, Port Moresby and Port Vila met with officials from their National Meteorological Services (NMS) getting insights on climate services and climate products available to progress collective goals of safe and secure communities and ensuring the economic and social well-being of women:

“We are walking away with a lot of information – what to access and how to use it,” says Mereani Vula of the Suva YWCA.

“We are providing young women with crucial information so that they can make informed choices from disaster preparedness to improve young women’s livelihoods,” says Vanessa Heleta of the Talitha Project in Tonga.

The visits were a first step in ensuring young women are better informed about climate change science being produced in their own country and develop relationships with the NMS staff. Participants also discussed how they could combine the use of traditional and indigenous knowledge with climate science to advocate for development and security priorities that address the impacts of climate change on their communities including food and water, health and economic security.

Equipped with the information young women will be better able to influence decision making processes where local and national climate adaptation plans are being finalised and adopted. Young women will also be able to access resources to progress projects they identify.

Members of the PNG YWCA highlighted that this would include addressing safety and protection issues and the increased unpaid care work required to access to water.

The Shifting the Power Coalition project, supported by the DFAT funded Australia Pacific Climate Partnership (APCP), is developing a network of young women leaders to influence national and regional climate change policy and programmes says Vanessa Heleta: “This project is mobilising women’s leadership and solutions in response to the health and climate change crisis.”

The training and regional consultation was designed to :

  1. Build knowledge on climate change and related
  2. Develop a regional feminist advocacy framework to support a young women-led regional campaign on climate change and DRR
  3. Support young women’s leadership and capacity development to drive national activities
  4. Enable young women to share their key messages via communications.

And as the young women found in Fiji, the Climate Service Division is not only producing and distributing weather updates and climate information via new technology such as its new mobile app but is also delving into historical climate change data is able to show the major temperature, rainfall and other climatic changes experienced in the past 50 years or more.

The training programme and consultation resulted in the adoption of national and a regional Young Women’s Call to Action in line with the WMO report which recommends an impact-based forecasting approach to can not only enhance effective early warning systems but also link with young women and women leaders who can translate the information to enhance preparedness and protection.


New Climate Tools and Resources

Every cyclone season is different. Exactly where and when a tropical cyclone forms is driven by complex interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, including the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean, and many other climate influences. According to The, a new long-range tropical cyclone outlook is set to enable more effective responses to disaster risk for Pacific Island communities: “Capturing changes in all of these climate influences simultaneously is key to producing more accurate tropical cyclone outlooks.”

The new tool, the Long-Range Tropical Cyclone Outlook for the Southwest Pacific (TCO-SP), will aid forecasters and help local authorities to prepare for the coming season’s cyclone activity.

And according to the latest long-range sea surface temperature outlook, there is a 79% chance that La Niña conditions could develop before the start of the 2020-21 Southwest Pacific cyclone season, which has been proven with the arrival of Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Yasa. La Niña conditions typically mean the risk of tropical cyclone activity is elevated for island nations in the western part of the region (New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) and reduced for nations in the east (French Polynesia and the Cook Islands). But there are exceptions, particularly when certain climate influences like the Indian Ocean Dipole occur with La Niña events.

Find out more about the climate outlook report:

The multi-agency State of Climate Services Report released by the World Meteorological Organization addresses the state of climate services for assessing adaptation needs in areas that are vulnerable to climate impacts.

According to Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization the COVID-19 pandemic shows how climate variability and change can interact with societal vulnerabilities to create new, heightened levels of risk – potentially having a positive impact on discussions surrounding the climate crisis: “Extreme weather and climate events have increased in frequency, intensity and severity. Vulnerable people in countries with weaker disaster preparedness systems are facing the greatest risks. Cyclone Harold formed off the Solomon Islands in early April 2020, made landfall in Vanuatu, and then moved to Fiji and Tonga.”

“The combination of COVID-19 and the cyclone made it much more difficult to respond to both crises. The pandemic disrupted supply routes for disaster response and many people moved into evacuation centres away from the cyclone, social distancing was almost impossible, raising risks of increasing the numbers affected by the pandemic.”

You can find the WMO report here:…/state-of-climate-services…