31 Mar 2015

Pacific economies outpaced by nature says ADB

9:27 am on 31 March 2015

The Asian Development Bank says climate change and other environmental factors continue to outpace the resilience of Pacific Island economies.

The ADB has forecast strong economic growth for most Pacific Island countries in 2015.

However Solomon Islands, whose capital was ravaged by flooding last year, and Vanuatu, this month devastated by Cyclone Pam, are two economies that have sustained big setbacks.

A high tide across Ejit Island in Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands on March 3, 2014, causing widespread flooding. Officials in the Marshall Islands blamed climate change for severe flooding in the Pacific nation's capital Majuro.

Flooding caused by huge spring tides which Marshall Islands officials have blamed on climate change. Photo: AFP

The ADB's Pacific economist Christopher Edmonds says in some ways Pacific economies are becoming more resilient to external impacts, by developing responses such as trust funds.

But he says natural disasters have a habit of landing big blows.

"ADB is working along with other development partners to increase the resilience of the economies by climate-proofing the infrastructure for example, working a lot on urban development plans to move the population away from flood prone areas, near the coast, things like that. So it's an ongoing activity at the same time. You do get the sense some time that the environment is changing faster than the countries are."