Creating new opportunities while building resilience to climate change: ADB's Pacific transport update 2022
The 14 Asian Development Bank’s Pacific Developing Member Countries face severe development constraints. They show remote and fragmented geography and limited infrastructure while experiencing also climate change impact, and increasingly frequent occurrences of disasters triggered by natural hazards.
Their small size, isolation, and high exposure to climate risks and disasters combined with limited financial resources and gaps in meeting the demand make the role of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) crucial. Through the Pacific transport update 2022, the Asian multilateral lender has highlighted the impacts and outcomes of initiatives completed in 2020 and 2021, and active as of December 2021.
ADB projects helping empower people and economies
The key issue when it comes to transport in the Pacific area is to build resilient and sustainable transport links that could empower people and economies by facilitating access to markets, opportunities, and essential goods and services. Self-evidently, increasing resilience to natural hazards by integrating disaster risk management and climate-resilient design considerations should be a field of intervention. These are the priorities that drive the action of ADB as it provides financial and technical resources to develop connectivity infrastructure.
By lending 100.7 million dollar ti the Fiji Transport Infrastructure Investment Sector Project the ADB is improving access to socioeconomic opportunities by upgrading and rehabilitating a minimum of 100 km of main, municipal, and rural roads to revised standards and reconstructing 30 bridges with gender-sensitive designs that improve all-weather pedestrian access to waterways.
With 35.4 million dollars in funding, the Asian Bank is helping the government of Tuvalu islands build a workboat harbor Nukulaelae; rehabilitate boat ramps on Nanumaga and Niutao; build capacity to operate and maintain assets; and develop a transport sector master plan for further sequenced investments. None of the outer islands have docking facilities large enough to accommodate government shipping vessels. As such, goods and passengers must be transferred to and from shore by small workboats to get essential goods and services, including food, fuel, and medical care.
ADB's support for climate resilience
In its Pacific Approach ADB renew its commitment to support adaptation and risk-reduction measures needed to increase the resilience of infrastructure to both disaster events and long-term climate change. It is a sizable challenge given that the climate crisis is disproportionately affecting the Pacific area more than many others in the rest of the world.
In this regard, the 65.2 million dollars fund earmarked to enhance the safety, security, and sustainability of Apia Port Project in Samoa, not only will expand its role as a transshipment hub, but also increase the resilience to climate variability of a port losing up to 20 ship berth days a year due to swells in the rainy season. In addition to supporting maritime connectivity, ADB is assisting the government to increase land transport mobility and safety conditions for eight villages along the Central Cross Island Road.
The 40.8 million dollars will help improve safety conditions both for pedestrian traffic and for school and college students and evacuations and post-disaster relief in the event of cyclones. ADB’s 45 million dollars will improve the port’s capacity to cope with demand for the next 20 years and strengthen the safety and resilience to the effects of climate change of Tonga’s main port. Through a 20.8 million dollar lending granted for Cyclone Pam Road Reconstruction Project, the ADB helped reconstruct and climate-proof damaged portions of the Éfaté Ring Road hit the Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam, by restoring the connectivity between Port Vila and communities across the island.
ADB's two main new strategies for the Pacific developing Member Countries
The ADB is changing the way it does business in the Pacific after having adopted two new strategies.
The Pacific Transport Sector Assessment, Strategy and Road Map 2021–2025 (SAR) was published in July 2021 and will guide transport sector assistance. It establishes ADB’s strategic focus on different subsectors (i.e. maritime transport, aviation, land transport), thematic areas (i.e. climate change, gender equality institutional capacity), and implementation approaches.
The Pacific Approach 2021–2025 serves as the country partnership strategy for ADB’s 12 smallest Pacific DMCs and will oversee a paradigm shift in how ADB delivers assistance to the region, all under a unified goal of supporting a resilient Pacific. It is built on three objectives: prepare for and respond to shocks, deliver sustainable services, and support inclusive growth.