Pacific Island university students sampling seagrass seeds to learn about habitat resilience in coastal ecosystems.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) is part of a dynamic collaboration in the publication of an inaugural Pacific Marine Climate Change Report Card launched on 8 June 2018 as part of World Oceans Day, at events in Fiji and Samoa.
Targeted to help Pacific islanders and decision-makers understand and respond to the likely impacts of marine climate change, its key message is that climate change is increasingly putting the fundamental needs of ocean dependent Pacific communities at risk and thus flexible management systems which build climate resilience are urgently needed.
The Report Card provides a summary of climate change impacts on coasts and seas in the Pacific island region, and how Pacific islands can respond. It is supported by thirteen (13) detailed reviews, which assess current scientific understanding of climate change and its impacts on the region’s marine environment.
It is a product of a year-long collaboration between marine science and climate change experts from the Pacific and United Kingdom; in total over 60 scientists were involved in compiling this authoritative analysis.
The Report Card is the result of a joint effort between USP, the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), UN Environment, The Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC) and Climate Analytics Impacts project.
Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and International stated that the Report Card provides an accessible, well-evidenced and comprehensive analysis of the effects of climate change on the Pacific Ocean and on the people who rely on it.
“This is very useful for the 12 member countries of USP and underlies our ongoing University-wide commitment to oceans and climate change,” he stated.
“USP’s role in the Report Card exemplifies the importance of progressive development of scientific capacity in citizens of our member countries in order to meet regional challenges,” Professor Armstrong added.
The user-friendly presentation of the most current scientific knowledge on climate change and the Pacific’s marine environment is particularly important for supporting sustainable decision-making in the ocean-dependent Pacific islands.
The Report Card underscores the urgency of action, and recommends measures for addressing the projected impacts, including:
• Emphasising the importance of significantly reducing existing pressures from pollution, marine waste, population growth, overfishing and coastal development, to reduce these climate risks;
• Incorporating knowledge and needs of social and cultural groups in adaptation planning.
• Ensuring that coastal planning and management are adaptable, and can be further developed with time, as further climatic changes are seen; and
• Developing a better understanding of localised climate impacts, bringing scientists and local communities together.
Dr Bryony Townhill, lead co-ordinator of the Climate Change Report Card for the Caribbean and Climate Change Scientist at Cefas said:
“This report card builds on similar work we undertook in the Caribbean last year, which has helped to raise the profile of marine climate change issues at international climate change meetings. We hope that the Pacific report card can similarly help Pacific nations clearly understand the key risks of climate change, and how they can respond on a local and international scale,” he said.
The initiative was funded by the UK Government as part of the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme (CME Programme).
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