Author: Catherine Wilson

Pioneering digital initiative empowers Pacific Islands to tackle climate disasters

Source(s): Inter Press Service International Association

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The Pacific Islands are home to about 12.7 million people and natural disasters are leading to annual average losses in the region of USD 1.07 billion, reports the Australian Aid Agency.

Digital Earth Pacific, launched by the Pacific Community in October last year, aims to halt that trend. To do this, it will set up far-reaching digital public infrastructure that gives national leaders, decision-makers, policymakers, and citizens, including farmers and local communities, easy access to up-to-date satellite-derived information. It will equip islanders to make better decisions about everything from building climate-resilient infrastructure to planting crops.

The project will draw on the wealth of scientific information from Microsoft’s Planetary Computer and treat it as ‘public goods’ to be used by those who need it. It is now in the last stages of the first phase of development, with significant progress already made in establishing the digital infrastructure and designing products and applications. Minchin said that they had captured "coastline change, mangroves, and surface water resources, and each of these products is available for every island atoll and rock across the entire Blue Pacific Continent."

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This century, the Pacific faces a forecast of relentless temperature increases, extreme rainfall, and floods that risk the perishing of crops and rises in human illness and disease, such as heat stress and dengue fever, reports the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). More destructive cyclones and rising sea levels will lead to continued loss and damage to towns, villages, and basic services, for instance, water, sanitation, power, and roads.

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