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Vanuatu twin cyclones underscore The Pacific’s vulnerability to compounding climate disaster risks

Posted 14th March 2023

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Two destructive Category 4 tropical cyclones, Judy and Kevin, and an earthquake of 6.5 magnitude impacted over 80 per cent of the Vanuatu population from 1 to 3 March 2023. To address this emergency situation, the UN, along with Pacific member States have deployed personnel on the ground to coordinate humanitarian assistance and prepare post-disaster damage assessment.

Sitting in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” Vanuatu experiences frequent volcanic and seismic activity. And along with the other Pacific small island developing States (SIDS), Vanuatu faces existential threats due to rising sea level, ocean acidification and the increased frequency and severity of natural disasters and is on the front line of climate crisis.

The twin cyclones and an earthquake in just 48 hours remind the world that seismic and climate risks are converging and intensifying – no community feels this stronger than those of the Blue Pacific Continent.

On macro-economic impact, in fact, Pacific SIDS face Average Annual Losses from multiple hazards totaling to US$ 1.1 billion in the current scenario. This figure is set to increase to US$ 1.3 billion under moderate and US$1.4 billion under worst-case climate warming scenarios. As a percentage of GDP, Vanuatu, Tonga and Palau are projected to face highest losses - Vanuatu is projected to lose a staggering 20 per cent GDP annually due to disasters.

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