GFDRR is helping small island states build larger pipelines of resilience investments to withstand the impacts of climate change – from safeguarding coastal areas to building safety nets that protect citizens after disaster strikes. It offers just-in-time, expert assistance on flood and landslide risk assessment, safer infrastructure, social and financial safety nets, and implementation capacity. Through a global community of practice, SISRI links island practitioners with one another, and with global knowledge on building resilience.
Small island states are highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. Over 60% of countries with the highest losses from disaster events are small island states – with damages of up to 9% of GDP. In the last half century, Pacific Island states alone have suffered US$3 billion in damages from natural disasters. And in the past year, Hurricane Maria wiped out 226% of Dominica’s GDP. These vulnerabilities, however, can be reduced through adequate investment, technical expertise and hands-on support.
Through its Small Island States Resilience Initiative (SISRI), GFDRR is helping small island states build larger pipelines of resilient investments to withstand the impacts of climate change—from safeguarding coastal areas to building safety nets that support citizens after disaster strikes while enhancing their adaptive capacity.
In addition to GFDRR, SISRI activities are supported by the European Commission, Japan and Australia.
SISRI’s work in small island states has three main strategic areas:
Efficient Investment Flows
SISRI is helping small island states map the complex landscape of climate finance assistance and increase both the scale and efficiency of their investments. A joint GFDRR-OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) analysis found that, though concessional donor funding for resilience nearly doubled from 2011 to 2014, reaching $1.01 billion, it remained highly fragmented with high transaction costs. SISRI is helping small island states to scale up and consolidate their resilience investments, moving away from fragmented small projects towards national initiatives that deliver results at scale.
Technical and Operational Support
SISRI provides on-the-ground technical and operational support by drawing on an expanded GFDRR and World Bank team. Drawing on experience in a wide range of areas including flood and landslide risk assessment, safer infrastructure, and social and financial safety nets, this expert community is deployed on a just-in-time basis to help island nations address project bottlenecks and implement new investments. For example, SISRI is helping the Marshall Islands, Jamaica, and São Tomé and Príncipe to safeguard vulnerable coastal zones through optimally combining “gray” coastal defense structures, such as seawalls, with “green” interventions, such as mangrove restoration.
Through its Practitioners’ Network , SISRI is bringing leading practitioners from small island nations to share knowledge and experience on building resilience. Most recently, dialogues of the Practitioners’ Network took place as side events at the 2018 Understanding Risk Forum in Mexico City and the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico. The meeting in Cancun brought together more than 80 practitioners from 34 small island states, while the over 40 participants from 20 small island states convened in Mexico City. SISRI produces periodic Knowledge Notes, which captures the insights, best practice and lessons learned from the meetings.
To better understand the threat that natural hazards and climate change pose to its development plans, Fiji has prepared a Climate Vulnerability Assessment using a thorough new methodology.
SISRI Practitioners Network
The SISRI Practitioners' Network connects stakeholders from small island states across the globe. Read below for information about past events and the World Bank SISRI Community of Practice, and check back soon for information on a new online collaboration hub. See below for information about past meetings.
Institutional Reforms & Strengthening
Mainstreaming Resilience in Core Economic Planning, Sector Regulations, and Spatial Planning
- National Advisory Board on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction. Describes the structure developed by Tuvalu government: the NAB to act as the supreme policy-making and advisory board for all disaster risk and climate change activities, and act to mainstream them in each operation. (Authors: Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards department)
- Vanuatu Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Policy 2016-2030. The vision of this Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Policy is for Vanuatu to be a nation whose communities, environment and economy are resilient to the impacts of climate change and disaster risks. (Authors: Vanuatu Ministry of Climate Change)
Building National Awareness to Change Risk Behavior and Foster Better Decision-Making
- The Change: A Cartoon about Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Preparedness for Climate Change. An award-winning cartoon for awareness raising amongst communities. (By DIMSUR)
- Obstacles to climate change adaptation decisions: a case study of sea-level rise and coastal protection measures in Kiribati. This qualitative analysis of the real-world process of climate change adaptation reveals that embracing a culturally appropriate and short-term (~20 years) planning horizon, while not ignoring the longer-term future, may reduce the influence of scientific uncertainty on decisions and provide opportunities to learn from mistakes, reassess the science, and adjust suboptimal investments. The limiting element in this approach to adaptation is likely to be the availability of consistent, long-term financing. (Authors: Donner S.D., Webber S.)
- Measuring and tracking the flow of climate change adaptation aid to the developing world. (Authors: Donner S. D., Kandlikar M., Webber S.)
- Obstacles to climate change adaptation decisions: a case study of sea-level rise and coastal protection measures in Kiribati. (Authors: Donner, S. D., Webber, S.)
- Measuring and tracking the flow of climate change adaptation aid to the developing world. (Authors: Donner, S. D., Kandlikar, M., Webber, S.)
- Climate finance fundamentals 12: small island developing states (2017 update). (Authors: Charlene Watson, Neil Bird, Liane Schalatek, Katharina Keil)
- Climate and Disaster Resilience Financing in Small Island Developing States. (GFDRR/OECD report)
- Caribbean Handbook on Risk Information Management
- Small Islands (Chapter 29 of the fifth IPCC report). Synthesis of expected climate change impacts and vulnerability of the small islands. (Authors: Nurse L. and McLean R. et al., IPCC)
- Many Atolls may be Uninhabitable within Decades due to Climate Change. Publication modeling wave run-up and flooding due to sea level rise on atolls. (Authors: Storlazzi, C. D., Elias E. P. L and Berkowitz P.)
- Future Wave and Wind Projections for United States and US-Affiliated Pacific Islands. Wave and wind modeling for northern Pacific Island region (includes FSM, RMI, Palau and U.S. Territories). (Authors: US Department of Interior, US Geological Survey)
- Climate Variability, Extremes and Change in the Western Tropical Pacific 2014. Scientific understanding (in 2014) of large-scale climate processes, observations, extremes and projections in the western tropical Pacific. (Authors: Australian Government and Australian Aid)
- Exposure of coastal built assets in the South Pacific to climate risks. Descriptions of the spatial repartition of the built infrastructure and its exposures in 12 Pacific Island Countries. (Authors: Kumar L. and Taylor S., 2015)
Urban and DRM
Preparedness and Early Warning Systems
- Implementation of an Early Warning System for Incoming Storm Surge and Tide in the Republic of Mauritius. Describes the design of an EWS for coastal areas which integrates storm surge and cyclone forecasting. (Authors: Deltares, Ministry of Environment, Sustainable Development, Disaster and Beach Management, Mauritius Meteorological Service, UNDP and Adaptation Fund)
- The Change: A Cartoon about Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Preparedness for Climate Change. An award-winning cartoon for awareness raising amongst communities. (Author: DIMSUR)
- SimpleCoast. Simple assessment concepts and tools for coastal problems and design of adaptation and disaster risk management solutions – designed for low-capacity, low-data sites. (Authors: Deltares)
- SimpleCoast: Dealing with Coastal Risks in Small Island States – Training Session. (Authors: Alessio Giardino and colleagues (Deltares))
- Assessment of flooding on low-elevation reef-lined coasts. (Authors: Ap Van Dongeren (Deltares), with Curt Storlazzi (USGS)).
- Urban Flood Risk Management in the Pacific: Tracking progress and setting priorities. Knowledge Note from the Urban Floods Community of Practice describing a benchmarking method developed to track the progress of Pacific island countries toward best-practice flood risk management.
- Building with Nature Project in Suriname. Video showing the use of sediment traps to build up coastal land and enable mangrove regeneration. (Authors: Conservation International Suriname)
- Building with Nature in Indonesia. Using ecosystem based (including sediment trap) to secure eroding delta coastlines. (Authors: Wetland International with Deltares)
- A Bird’s Eye View of the East Demearara Water Conservancy - Flood-risk reduction along Guyana’s coast. Presentation of how the conservancy helps to drain and store water in combination with a pumped drainage system and dams to reduce the risk of flooding caused by precipitation and high tides. (Authors: World Bank with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture)
- Building with Nature Project in Suriname. Video showing the use of sediment traps to build up coastal land and enable mangrove regeneration. (Authors: Conservation International Suriname)
- Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience: Using the Full Array of Measures. A summary of structural and non-structural coastal risk reduction measures. (Authors: US Army Corps of Engineers)
- The Coastal Ecosystem in Tuvalu and Geo-ecological Management against Sea-Level Rise. Eco-system based approach to build resilience on atolls. (Authors: Kayanne H., Hosono T. and Kawada, A.)
- Guides sur les options d’adaptation en zones côtières a l’attention des décideurs locaux. Description of adaptation solutions for the coastlines (in French). (Authors: Niang et al. / UNESCO et Commission Océanographique Intergouvernementale)
- Technologies for Climate Change Adaptation – Coastal Erosion and Flooding. Description of structural (grey and green) and non-structural solutions, with advantages and drawback. (Authors: Linham M. and Nicholls R. / UNEP and GEF)
- Managing Coasts with Natural Solutions. Guidelines for Measuring and Valuing the Coastal Protection Services of Mangroves and Coral Reefs – includes a review of tools used for ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA). (Authors: WAVES/World Bank Group)
- Mangroves for Coastal Defence. Guidelines for Coastal Managers & Policy Makers. (Author: Spalding M. / The Nature Conservancy
- Mangrove rehabilitation with sediment trapping in Suriname. Use of vegetative sediment traps to encourage mangrove rehabilitation against coastal erosion in Suriname. (Authors: Naipal S & Christa Fung-A-L and Suriname Conservation).
- Beach Erosion Management in Small Island Developing States: Indian Ocean case studies. Beach erosion management options and policy choices, including engineering and non-engineering solutions (experience of Seychelles and Mauritius). (Author: Durvat, V.)
- Coastal Mining and its Influence on Coastline Stability. Comparative assessment of sand mining status in Indian Ocean countries (including Comoros, Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion, Madagascar). (Author: Barwell, L. / UNEP)
- Eco-Technological Management of Tuvalu against Sea Level Rise. Application of foraminifera farming and coral transplantation to enhance sand production and sedimentation in Fongafale Island, Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu. (Authors: Kayanne H., Ibaraki Univ., the Univ. Ryukyus, and Department of Environment and Fisheries, Tuvalu)
- The Coastal Ecosystem in Tuvalu and Geo-ecological Management against Sea-Level Rise. An ecosystem-based approach to build resilience on atolls. (Authors: Kayanne H., Hosono T. and Kawada, A.)
- Linking Reef Ecology to Island Building: Parrotfish identified as major producers of island-building sediment in the Maldives. Recent publication highlighting the importance of health parrotfish populations for sediment generation in atolls. (Authors: Perry, C.T., Kench P.S., O’Leary M.J., Morgan K.M. and Januchowski-Hartley F.)
- Survey of Climate Change Adaptation Measures in Maldives. (Author: Ministry of Housing and Environment of Maldives)
- A Landowner’s guide to coastal protection. Description of small-scale approaches to adapt against erosion and flooding. (Author: USAID, SeaGrant, UNDP, Coastal Resources Center, RMI and NOAA)
- Physical modelling and design for shoreline redevelopment on the south coast of Barbados. Use of physical models to test different options to grant access to the beach while protecting the shoreline, with a combination of green and grey solution. (Authors: Graham F. et al., 2016)
Adaptive Social Protection & Inclusive Community Resilience
Managed Population Retreat
- Managing Population Retreat from At-Risk Areas. A SISRI Knowledge Note summarizing good practices in participatory population retreat, highlighting examples from São Tomé and Príncipe and Samoa. (Authors: Koskinen-Lewis P., de Carvalho A., Dias C., Fernandos C., Diogo O., Taulealo L., Evalu F. and Simi N.)
- Guidance on Protecting People from Disaster and Environmental Change through Planned Relocation. Most recent international guidance on planned relocation as a result of disasters or climate change. (Authors: Brookings Institution, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, UN High Commissioner for Refugees)
- Migration from atolls as climate change adaptation: Current practices, barriers and options in Solomon Islands. Paper focusing on migration experiences in Ontong Java and Reef Islands (Solomon Islands). It identifies constraining factors to migration which, if addressed, could incentivize voluntary relocation. (Authors: Birk T. and Rasmussen K., Natural Resources Forum)
- Preventive Resettlement of Populations at Risk of Disasters, Examples from Latin America (in English and Spanish). Lessons learned and good practices from preventive relocation of populations at risk, based on Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Guatemala case studies. (Author: Elena Correa (ed.), Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), World Bank, Washington DC)
- Planned Relocations in the Context of Natural Disasters and Climate Change: A Review of Literature. Review of about 38 published case studies on both anticipatory and reactive population relocation. (Author: Brookings Institution and London School of Economics)
- Resettlement in the Wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines: A Strategy to Mitigate Risk or a Risky Strategy. Lessons learned from population relocation in the wake of typhoon Haiyan, highlighting the pitfalls of weak planning. (Author: Brookings Institution and-London School of Economics)
- Planned Relocations in the Context of Natural Disasters: The Case of Sri Lanka. Case study of relocation of 18 families following the Indian Ocean tsunami. (Authors: Vithanagamo R., Mohideen A., Jayatilaka D., Lakshman R. / Centre for Migration Research and Development)
- Planned Relocations in the Mekong Delta: A Successful Model for Climate Change Adaptation, A Cautionary Tale, or Both?. Case study of planned relocation in the Mekong Delta, based on a PhD thesis research, highlighting the challenges faced by relocated communities in terms of loss of short-term livelihoods. (Authors: Chun J., Brookings Institute and London School of Economics)
- Climate Change and Population Movement in Pacific Island Countries. Discussion of relocation options (proximate, distant, regional and international), and policy implication for Pacific Island countries. (Author: Campbell J.)
- Contested Territory. How, why and when communities are migrating and will migrate from small islands states? (Author: Green M., 2016)
Financial and Social Protection
- Financial Protection against Natural Disasters – an Operational Framework for Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance. A flagship reference document describing the different financial instruments to manage disaster risks. (Authors: GFDRR and World Bank)
- Disaster Risk Financing & Insurance Program - Supporting countries to manage the cost of disaster and climate shocks. 4 pages to describe the areas of actions, the outcomes and the figures of the World Bank DRFI program. (Authors: World Bank Group and GFDRR)
- Disaster Risk Finance Across the Globe. This animated video tells the story of a young family living in a region impacted by natural disasters. It shows how Disaster Risk Finance initiatives help this family and other stakeholders across the globe. (Authors: GFDRR and World Bank)
- Disaster Risk Financing & Insurance in the disaster risk management framework. 2 page document presenting how DRFI integrates in the different pillar of Disaster risk Management. (Author: World Bank)
- Building Resilience through Social Protection. A SISRI Knowledge Note summarizing key principles for the use of social protection in risk reduction and disaster response, in the context of Small Island States. (Authors: Asha Williams and Francesca Lamanna; Nick Jones (ed.))
- Integrating Disaster Response and Climate Resilience in Social Protection Programs in the Pacific Island Countries. This paper discusses the potential role of social protection for disaster and climate risk reduction and management in Pacific Island Countries.. (Authors: Cecilia Valentina Costella and Oleksiy Ivaschenko, World Bank)
- Building Resilience to Disaster and Climate Change through Social Protection Toolkit. A comprehensive toolkit providing guidance on how to prepare social protection programs to respond to disasters and climate change. It includes examples of good practice and practical tips for implementation. (Author: World Bank)
- Tailoring Social Protection to Small Island Developing States: Lessons Learned from the Caribbean. Good practices and lessons from social protection programs in the Caribbean. (Authors: Asha Williams, Timothy Cheston, Aline Coudouel, and Ludovic Subran)
- ShockWaves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty. Flagship World Bank report on the impact of climate change on the poor, including recommendations for safety nets, and pro-poor policies. (Authors: Hallegatte, S., et al, World Bank)
- Natural Disasters: What is the Role for Social Safety Nets?. Paper emphasizing the role of safety nets in the management of natural hazard risks, both ex-ante (to prevent and reduce impact of disasters) and ex-post. (Authors: Pelham, L., Clay, E., and Braunholz, World Bank)
- The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation. (Authors: Ferrario, F., Beck, M. W., Storlazzi, C. D., Micheli, F., Shepard, C. C., & Airoldi, L.)