The Cook Islands is exposed to a wide range of natural hazards ranging from cyclones and tsunamis to slow -onset changes in climate, sea levels and ocean acidification as a result of climate change. Events such as the five consecutive cyclones of 2005, Cyclone Pat that struck Aitutaki in 2010 and the Samoan and Japanese tsunamis, remind us of our vulnerability to the forces of nature and provide us with the impetus to be better prepared.
The lessons learnt from these events motivated the Cook Islands Government to review its entire disaster management structure, operations and introduced new policies, legislation and plans. The Cook Islands is now implementing its Joint National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation (JNAP). This Plan was endorsed by Cabinet and is linked directly to our Cook Islands National Sustainable Development Plan and Goal 5 of Resilient and Sustainable Communities:
‘A Cook Islands where our people are resilient to disasters and climate change to achieve sustainable livelihoods’.
Our JNAP explicitly builds in the economic, social development and improved livelihoods objectives of our national plan. Both Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) and Climate Change Cook Islands (CCCI) are now under the auspice of the Office of Prime Minister reflecting the priority placed on DRM and Climate Change in the Cook Islands.
EMCI and CCCI will continue to ensure that we have the right policies, legislation, plans and structures in place to deal efficiently with any national emergency or disaster, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) including those exacerbated by climate change.
Our response to Tropical Cyclone Pat in 2010 highlighted the inefficiency of our Government agencies to respond immediately and produce information, reports and real time data during the early response phase.
As a result, EMCI division of the Office of the Prime Minister has developed a Geo Portal to address these issues. A Geo-portal is a type of web portal used to find and access geographic information (geospatial information) and associated geographic services via the Internet. Geo-portals are important for effective use of geographic information systems (GIS), Hazard mapping and a key element of Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). Thus the Geo-portal serves an increasingly important role in the sharing of geographic information and can avoid duplicated efforts, inconsistencies, delays, confusion, and wasted resources.
Having Geo-DRM systems in place will greatly enhance the effectiveness and efficiency in Disaster Risk Management and Risk Reduction within the Cook Islands. Therefore, the project will strive to provide adequate information for ALL to make critical decisions in the event of an emergency.