The WMO’s State of Climate in South-West Pacific report and an accompanying story map were launched at the United Nations Climate Change negotiations, COP27, on November 17, 2022.
In 2021, the region reported 57 natural hazards, 93% of which were floods and storms. Overall, 14.3 million people were directly affected by these disasters, causing total economic damage of US$5.7bn. Economic damage from storms has increased by 30% and more than doubled for floods, compared to the past two decades.
In terms of countries, Australia was observed to have suffered the highest proportion of economic losses due to floods in the region (US$2.5bn), followed by New Zealand (US$247m), and Malaysia (US$200m). However, the researchers emphasized that this is not proportionate to GDP. The ESCAP Asia-Pacific Disaster Reports 2021 and 2022 estimate that in the South-West Pacific, investments in adaptation would need to be highest in Indonesia, at US$8.8bn, followed by the Philippines at US$5.5bn. As a percentage of the country’s GDP, the highest cost is estimated for Vanuatu at 9.6%, followed by Tonga at 8.6%.