Marshall Islands

 

Overall, the most appropriate and effective adaptation measures and strategies are most likely to be those that will be beneficial even in the absence of climate and sea-level change. Such measures and strategies could be considered as “no regrets” adaptation options. Therefore, in the first instance, the capacity of the Marshall Islands to adapt to the effects of climate and sea-level change will largely be determined by its ability to address on-going environmental, social and economic problems. Adaptation includes three main types of activities. First, there are adaptive actions that include activities targeted at specific sectors where climate change effects have been identified. Second, another group of adaptive measures are equally important and include general policies and actions by government to address some of the social driving forces of environmental problems which will heighten vulnerability to climate change effects. Third, it is also important to increase the capabilities of the Marshall Islands to effectively implement adaptations.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) are located off the northeast coast of New Zealand, scattered in an archipelago consisting of two roughly parallel island chains. There are twenty nine atolls and five reefs without lagoons which are made up of about 1,225 islands and 870 reef systems. Twenty-two of the atolls and four of the islands are inhabited. The atolls extend about 700 miles (1130km) north to south, and about 800 miles (1290km) east to west. While some of the islands are several kilometers long they rarely exceed a few hundred meters in width and are often considerably narrower. Land elevations are very low, with a mean height above sea level of only two meters (7 feet). The combination of small land areas and low land elevations contributes to the ecological vulnerability in the Republic. There is concern that any change in sea-level could seriously upset the fragile balance between the land and the sea. The RMI consist of fragments of Islands or low Lying Atoll Courtesy of MIVA.  Isolated by ocean, the Republic is more than 2,000 miles (3230km) from the nearest trading centers, Honolulu and Tokyo. Geographically, the RMI’s nearest neighbors are Kiribati to the south and the Federated States of Micronesia to the west. The Republic’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) encompasses over 750,000 square miles (1.2 million sq km) of the Central Pacific.  Subsistence agriculture and fishing are the country’s main industry; the tourism industry makes a noteworthy contribution along with a development funds from the United States.  

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The Republic of Marshall Islands PACC Cost- Benefit Analysis Report

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Marshall Islands' Second National Communication

The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities. The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.

The major impacts that climate change is projected to have in the Marshall Islands are sea level rise and associated shoreline erosion. This observation reflects the low-lying nature of the atolls the form the country; its highest point of land is found on the island of Likiep and extends 10 meters above sea level. In  its  Initial  National  Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released in 2000, the Marshall Islands identified the following sectors as being particularly vulnerable to climate change: water resources, coastal resources, agriculture resources, marine resources (including fisheries) and human health.
 
To view progress on the Marshall Islands' SNC visit: http://unfccc.int/national_reports/non-annex_i_natcom/submitted_natcom/i...
Photos: 
Region/Country: 
Level of Intervention: 
Coordinates: 
POINT (171.380921969 7.09096710419)
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Through improved identification of national circumstances, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
420,000
Co-Financing Total: 
410,000
Project Details: 

Overall, the most appropriate and effective adaptation measures and strategies are most likely to be those that will be beneficial even in the absence of climate and sea-level change. Such measures and strategies could be considered as “no regrets” adaptation options. Therefore, in the first instance, the capacity of the Marshall Islands to adapt to the effects of climate and sea-level change will largely be determined by its ability to address on-going environmental, social and economic problems. Adaptation includes three main types of activities. First, there are adaptive actions that include activities targeted at specific sectors where climate change effects have been identified. Second, another group of adaptive measures are equally important and include general policies and actions by government to address some of the social driving forces of environmental problems which will heighten vulnerability to climate change effects. Third, it is also important to increase the capabilities of the Marshall Islands to effectively implement adaptations.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) are located off the northeast coast of New Zealand, scattered in an archipelago consisting of two roughly parallel island chains. There are twenty nine atolls and five reefs without lagoons which are made up of about 1,225 islands and 870 reef systems. Twenty-two of the atolls and four of the islands are inhabited. The atolls extend about 700 miles (1130km) north to south, and about 800 miles (1290km) east to west. While some of the islands are several kilometers long they rarely exceed a few hundred meters in width and are often considerably narrower. Land elevations are very low, with a mean height above sea level of only two meters (7 feet). The combination of small land areas and low land elevations contributes to the ecological vulnerability in the Republic. There is concern that any change in sea-level could seriously upset the fragile balance between the land and the sea. The RMI consist of fragments of Islands or low Lying Atoll Courtesy of MIVA.  Isolated by ocean, the Republic is more than 2,000 miles (3230km) from the nearest trading centers, Honolulu and Tokyo. Geographically, the RMI’s nearest neighbors are Kiribati to the south and the Federated States of Micronesia to the west. The Republic’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) encompasses over 750,000 square miles (1.2 million sq km) of the Central Pacific.  Subsistence agriculture and fishing are the country’s main industry; the tourism industry makes a noteworthy contribution along with development funds from the United States.  

Adaptation Needs and Priorities
 
The major impacts that climate change is projected to have in the Marshall Islands are sea level rise and associated shoreline erosion (EPA, 2000). This observation reflects the low-lying nature of the atolls the form the country; its highest point of land is found on the island of Likiep and extends 10 meters above sea level (CIA, 2011).  In  its  Initial  National  Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released in 2000, the Marshall Islands identified the following sectors as being particularly vulnerable to climate change: water resources, coastal resources, agriculture resources, marine resources (including fisheries) and human health (EPA, 2000). To address these vulnerabilities, the Marshall Islands identified the following actions (EPA, 2000): 
 
  • Institutional  strengthening, such as by ensuring that governmental departments  are adequately structured and equipped with appropriate skills and tools, and are capable of delivering an integrated response to the challenges arising from climate change and accelerated sea level rise.
  • Project management and operational training for all stakeholders involved in climate change programs and the implementation of adaptation projects. 
  • Accurate documentation of baseline conditions from which to measure climate induced changes to the shorelines, reef and island ecosystem and affected settlements and communities.
  • Research capacity needs to be strengthened by ensuring adequate  support at the professional and technical levels, and by providing financial support  for baseline bio-physical and socioeconomic environmental research, monitoring changes to environmental conditions and implementing adaptation measures. 
  • Appropriate systems are needed for spatial and other data generated through vulnerability assessments, monitoring programs, 
    integrated coastal zone management planning and the implementation of adaptation projects.
  • Confidence and capacity building programs are needed for government departments, members of local councils and nongovernment organizations.
  • Community awareness and education programs.
  • Proactive participation in international forums and meetings are needed with the aim of continuing to keep the issues confronting small island states, when they are responding to climate change.
 
National Level Policies and Strategic Documents
 
The  Initial National Communication (2000) of the Marshall Islands reviews the national activities that have been taking place in the Marshall Islands, including vulnerability and adaptation case study and participation in the Pacific Islands Climate Change Assistance Program (PICCAP). There is a brief outline of the future and immediate adaptation needs of the country, followed by a possible list of policy actions that could help the Marshall Islands adapt to climate change in some key areas (EPA, 2000):
 
  • Land Use and Planning: amendment of land use planning policies to include adaptations to climate change.
  • Environment and Natural Resources: amendment of environmental and natural policies to include adaptations to climate change.
  • Natural Hazard Management: amendment of natural hazard management policies to include adaptations to climate change.
  • Administration and Management: initiation of administrative arrangements and management policies to deal with the core sectoral concerns in terms of water resources, coastal resources, agricultural resources, marine resources and human health.
  • Human Health: Development of a comprehensive suite of human health policies to address water borne diseases and other sicknesses that are related to climate-induced change.
  • Solid and Liquid Waste Management: Provide broad management policies for domestic solid waste and discharges of liquid effluent including consideration of a strategy to convert solid domestic and some industrial wastes to saleable energy.
  • Foreign Affairs: Enhancement of foreign policy frameworks. 
  • Center of Excellence: establish a Centre of Excellence to expand the role of the Marshall  Islands in the international as well as national issues of climate change.
  • Technology Exchange: technology exchange policies to address applied research and monitoring (information management).

More recently Marshall Islands developed the RMI Climate Change Roadmap 2010 as a national framework for their climate change and sustainable development  efforts.  With respect to  adaptation,  actions identified by  the Marshall Islands Government  included: the implementation of a Micronesia Challenge and Reimaanlok Action Plan; planning and interventions to address vulnerability in food security, public health and other social development areas; and protection and maintenance of key infrastructure and resources through planning and inter-agency coordination (FSF, 2010).  

Current Adaptation Action

As noted, the Marshall Islands previously participated in the PICCAP, which was initiated in 1995. Funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented through the United Nations Development Programme, PICCAP was executed by the Secretariat to Pacific Regional Environmental Program in 10 Pacific Island countries (Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) (Plume, 2002).
At present, the Marshall Islands appears to be participating in a low number of adaptation projects relative to other countries in the Pacific region; and all are being undertaken as part of broader, multi-country initiatives. These projects are attending needs related to agriculture, forestry, tourism, gender and policy and planning. Most projects emphasize capacity building, training and policy and planning. Funding for these projects is being provided by  the Asian Development Bank (ADB),  the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), and the governments of Canada and Germany.
 
Proposed Adaptation Action
 
Proposed adaptation actions within the Marshall Islands were not identified through this review.  
 
References:

 

Expected Key Results and Outputs: 
  • Sustainable development and the integration of climate change concerns into medium- and long-term planning
  • Inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases
  • Measures contributing to addressing climate change
  • Research and systematic observation
  • Climate change impacts, adaptation measures and response strategies
  • Education, training and public awareness

Potential Adaptation Measures:

Agriculture and Food Security

  • Switch to different cultivars
  • Develop new crops

Water Resources

  • Increase water supply, e.g. by using groundwater, building reservoirs, improving or stabilizing watershed management, desalination
  • Decrease water demands, e.g. by increasing efficiency, reducing water losses, water recycling, changing irrigation practices

Coastal Zones and Marine Ecosystems

  • Develop planning/new investment requirements
  • Protect, including building sea walls, and beach nourishment
Monitoring & Evaluation: 

In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.

Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention.

The core elements of the national communications for both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties are information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention. National communications usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessment, financial resources and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.

Since 1994, governments have invested significant time and resources in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions, and the COP has made determined efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the data, which are ensured by established guidelines for reporting. Non-Annex I Parties receive financial and technical assistance in preparing their national communications, facilitated by the UNFCCC secretariat.

Contacts: 
UNDP
Yamil Bonduki
Coordinator, National Communications Support Programme (NCSP)
UNDP
Emma Mario
Country Officer
Government of Marshall Islands
Kaminaga Kaminaga
Project Coordinator
Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Location: 
Project Status: 

PACC Marshall Islands - Inception Meeting Presentation

PACC Marshall Islands - Report of in Country Consultations

Co-Financing Support for PACC - Republic of the Marshall Islands

PACC Country Brief - Marshall Islands - July 2012

These 2-page PACC Country Briefs detail the essence and key aim of the national component of PACC and the climate change risk it addresses. Each brief contains an general introductory paragraph on PACC with the specify key objective and purpose of the national project.

PACC RMI

PACC RMI: Addressing high evaporation rates of current water storage systems and facilities

Through the PACC programme United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) are working to reduce climate vulnerability and promote more resilient Pacific communities that are able to cope with climate variability today and climate change tomorrow. In the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), the PACC project focuses on water resources management on the Majuro Atoll, where the nation’s capital is located.

For more information on the 13 additional participating countries and the Overall PACC Programme, click here.

Photos: 
Region/Country: 
Level of Intervention: 
Thematic Area: 
Coordinates: 
GEOMETRYCOLLECTION (POINT (169.1015625 8.14913618546), POINT (170.859375 9.01818907806), POINT (169.98046875 6.75479904851))
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
National budget allocation: $800,000

Examples of Cost- Benefit Analysis Reports

The Republic of Marshall Islands PACC Cost- Benefit Analysis Report

Project Brief / Fact Sheet

PACC Country Brief - Marshall Islands - July 2012

Co-Financing Total: 
$5,975,000
Project Details: 

PACC RMI is working to address the issue of high evaporation rates of current water storage facilities and demonstrating a whole-island approach to climate change adaptation. PACC RMI is demonstrating the benefits of preparing for future climate change risks in the water sector and is also working on ways to improve water usage in other sectors, particularly agriculture, during droughts. PACC RMI will take action through several approaches to improve water resource management:

Policy mainstreaming: To improve water quality and conservation policy, the PACC RMI project is developing national and sectoral policies, with a special concentration on drought periods. Currently, the water and sanitation policy incorporating climate change is completed and now under review through series of consultations with community. It will be put up for legislation by August 2012.

Community-based adaptation: In addition to policy mainstreaming efforts, there are a number of capacity building measures and concrete installations intended to enhance climate-resilience in RMI. These efforts are in place to achieve the second PACC outcome: to design and demonstrate innovative decision systems, approaches, technologies and practical measures to improve climate-resilience. For example:

  • Minimising evaporation rates of water storage facilities: The climate of the atolls restricts the quality and quantity of freshwater supply in RMI. While sources of water vary around the country, 70% of RMI’s residents depend on rainwater as their primary source for drinking water. Addressing high evaporation rates of stored water is key to maintaining adequate supply. Efforts are under way to provide a membrane cover to stop leakage and increase storage capacity on holding tanks.  There are a total of 7 holding tanks with a combined capacity of 36.4 million gallons. Each holding tank has a capacity of 5 million gallons, except for holding tank #7 (with 8 million gallons) and holding tank #3 (with 3.4 million gallons of treated water). Most of these tanks are currently leaking due to torn membranes. PACC RMI will replace the cover for holding tank #3 and will install membranes for tanks #1, 2 & 4. 
  • Development of alternative water sources: Creating water source alternatives to reduce usage from the primary water source will also support drought resilience and food security. PACC RMI is supporting the development of additional water sources based on reverse osmosis and alternative energy sources. The capture and storage of rain and groundwater resources (both individual household and community storage capacities) is one means of alternative water sourcing. For example, use of solar water pumps for efficiency and to pump out water with auto switch will be installed. The project will also provide water tanks to the Laura community to help reduce dependency on underground water. Efforts will include building 100,000 gallon steel or panel tanks and/or the creation of a 2nd reservoir at Laura.
  • Knowledge and information on water conservation and climate change: Demonstrating the correct usage of water for agriculture during a drought will also help residents adapt to the effects of climate change. PACC RMI is providing a better understanding of both water conservation and the various vulnerabilities and risks that climate change can cause for Majuro. Supporting the exchange of information to detect early warning signs, disaster risk reduction, and disaster response, provides RMI residents with knowledge to better adapt to climate-related threats. In addition, with the construction of a new water source by the Majuro Water and Sanitation Corporation, PACC RMI outcomes will help inform future government initiatives.

Expected Key Results and Outputs: 

The first of the PACC outcomes is devoted to mainstreaming. The PACC approach to mainstreaming has a dual purpose: 1) to strengthen the ability of institutional frameworks, policies and plans to take climate change risks into consideration and 2) to improve the capacity of key national government and community decision-makers to integrate adaptation measures in key decisions.

The second PACC outcome is to design and demonstrate innovative decision systems, approaches, technologies and practical measures to improve climate-resilience.

The third outcome, Technical Support and Communication, is to ensure that results and lessons from the PACC project are shared regionally and globally. The goal is also to bring together new knowledge generated through the project as the basis for a strategic regional approach to climate change adaptation among Pacific Island Countries and Territories.

Key Results

  1. National adaptive capacity developed
  2. Community vulnerability to climate change reduced
  3. Technical assistance & Regional Cooperation

Outputs

  • 1.1 Technical capacity of key decision makers developed
  • 1.2 Institutional coordination mechanisms established
  • 1.3 Tools to assess economic costs of adaptation developed and utilized
  • 1.4 Legislative and policy directives prepared and adopted
Contacts: 
Office of Environmental Planning
Joseph Cain
PACC National Coordinator
SPREP
Taito Nakalevu
PACC Regional Project Manager
UNDP
Marta Moneo
UNDP Environment Programme Officer
UNDP
Gabor Vereczi
UNDP Regional Technical Advisor
Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Location: 
Funding Source Short Code: 
bf
Project Status: 
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