The future of our world is turned upside down by COVID-19, yet let us not detract from a Pacific call to learn from the past and scale up adaptation. The existence of an impact assessment methodology of past interventions, several years after their completion remains a major gap in the Pacific. From a recent online survey of a Pacific pool of practitioners, managers and officials, 83% showed interest in the potential for an impact assessment methodology. Without information about longer-term impact, Pacific nations remain in a cycle of designing and executing new adaptation initiatives that may not, in many cases, fulfil a hoped-for long-term potential. An impact assessment methodology will strengthen strategic planning at the national level and shift planning horizons from the short-term project approach to the medium-term (10+ years) sector-resilient approach.

Under the European Union-funded Global Climate Change Alliance Plus - Scaling Up Pacific Adaptation (GCCA+ SUPA) project, Tonga has been selected, based on agreed criteria, as the first trial country to carry out an impact assessment of past adaptation interventions and will focus on coastal protection. Impact assessments in the selected trial countries will be carried out jointly with field practitioners e.g national focal contacts, Department of Climate Change staff. To do this, information on past adaptation interventions completed in the last five years were compiled and an approach is adopted with a suite of tools to assess the impacts of these interventions.

The community impact assessments will adopt a systematic way of collecting data on four key result areas of adaptation and gauge the level of social and behavioural changes in the communities where the intervention was implemented. The four key result areas of focus are health; food and water security; ecosystem services by the natural environment; infrastructure and built environment.

Recognising that the ongoing pandemic-related restrictions have changed our way of work, the GCCA+ SUPA team at SPREP will utilise every opportunity to connect virtually with the national focal contacts and provide technical support remotely.  More on this experience once there is buy-in, from field practitioners working with project partners at the Pacific Community (SPC) and The University of the South Pacific (USP), to utilize the community impact assessment tools during their outreach.

The SUPA project operates around an overall objective to enhance climate change adaptation and resilience within ten Pacific island countries (Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu) using a sector-based approach.

The GCCA+ SUPA project is funded by the European Union and delivered collaboratively by SPREP, SPC and USP.