A financial initiative to aid fishing communities of Melanesia against the impacts of climate change

Willis Towers Watson (WTW) has launched a financial initiative to safeguard fishing communities in Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG) against the impacts of climate change.

The project, called Financial Tools for Small-scale Fishers in Melanesia, was developed by WTW with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and WWF. It aims to provide the fishing communities of Fiji and PNG with financial “shock-absorbing” products that are tailored for their specific needs.

Melanesia is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change, with a significant portion of its Fiji and PNG populations relying on fishing as their livelihood. Many of these communities have little access to climate risk protection beyond insurance policies that cover fixed assets such as property, a statement from WTW revealed.

As such, the project is focused on providing fishing communities with payouts that can be deployed faster, helping them withstand climate adversities and effectively manage natural resources to ensure the resilience of the ecosystems themselves.

“Ocean-related risk means that coastal communities are especially vulnerable to climate change,” said Rowan Douglas, head of the Climate and Resilience Hub at WTW. “For communities of low-lying atolls and coastal areas of main islands in the Melanesian region, adaptation to climate change is an essential priority, and we are pleased to be exploring how risk understanding tools and risk transfer products from the insurance sector can enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities.”

The project was funded by the GEF’s Special Climate Change Fund and was formally launched through an inception meeting attended by stakeholders from Fiji and PNG, including Sylvester Pokajam, chairman and president of the PNG Fishing Industry Association (FIA), and Fiji Development Bank (FDB) CEO Saud Minam.

“We are pleased to cooperate because this project is fully aligned with the five years FIA PNG log-frame of the Responsible Sourcing Policy and it is an honour to cooperate with the PNG small-scale fisheries and coastal communities,” said Pokajam.

“FDB has been at the forefront of supporting smallholder fisheries entrepreneurs to build back sustainably after natural disasters that are exacerbated by the impact of climate change. FDB is happy to be part of this project and looks forward to its successful outcome,” said Minam.

As implementation of the project moves forward, WWF-Pacific will be assisting WTW in communicating with local governments and communities, providing guidance on local financial processes, languages, and culture.

This story was originally published at WWF Pacific on 10 May 2022 and reposted via PACNEWS.

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