Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands, faces a myriad of resilience challenges. Not only is the city already exposed to multiple natural hazards, a changing climate will amplify many of the adverse impacts into the future. At the same time, rapid urbanization - most obviously expressed through the growth of informal settlements in urban and peri-urban areas - is heightening community exposure and sensitivity to a range of climate and non-climate shocks and stresses.
In order to begin addressing these critical urban challenges, an initial vulnerability assessment was conducted as part of the UN-Habitat ‘Cities and Climate Change Initiative’. Published just before the major 2014 Honiara flood event, the assessment had identified some of the most vulnerable informal settlements; and these were the communities that were worst impacted by the event. This experience of a recent natural disaster reinforced the need for actions to make communities in the city, particularly the urban poor, more resilient to other shocks and stresses in the current day and into the future.
To address this agenda, the vulnerability assessment was followed up by local adaptation planning activity that was designed to identify key issues, and establish priority objectives, for enhanced community resilience. This process was carried out in close collaboration with key stakeholders at different levels across the city (community, ward, and citylevel); involving representatives from national, provincial and city government, NGOs, as well as members of vulnerability ‘hotspot’ communities. The Honiara Urban Resilience and Climate Action Plan (HURCAP) represents the culmination of the program of adaptation planning activity and sets out a portfolio of adaptation actions that can be implemented to directly contribute to resilience building in Honiara.
Priority actions that were identified through the participatory planning processes have been categorised according to 10 high-level thematic strands. The themes include: 1) Urban Planning & Land Development, 2) Housing, 3) Infrastructure, 4) Water, Sanitation and Waste, 5) Ecosystem Services and Coastal Processes; 6) Human Health and Well-being; 7) Communication: Awareness and Education, 8) Livelihoods and Behaviour Change, 9) Disaster Preparedness and Response, and 10) Governance and Partnerships. These categories are considered useful for framing adaptation processes and actions at multiple scales across the city.
Whilst the original intention was to develop a climate change adaptation plan, it became evident through engagement with local stakeholders that climate change is only one driver affecting the vulnerability of poor communities in Honiara.
Existing exposure to climate variability (cyclones) and natural hazard extreme events (earthquakes and tsunamis) meant that disaster risk reduction principles also needed to be accounted for i.e. considering the impacts of immediate shocks as well as longer term stresses. Furthermore, Honiara has significant development needs relating to inadequate infrastructure and housing stock, and in the case of some informal settlements, even access to basic essential services such as water and energy.
Addressing these immediate development needs is therefore strongly reflected in this broader urban resilience and climate action plan which integrates climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and development goals. The implementation of actions will not only reduce community exposure and sensitivity to shocks and stresses but will also result in a more solid socio-economic foundation for longer-term climate adaptation.