USP Lautoka Campus

USP Lautoka Campus

Successful Climate Change Seminar at USP Lautoka Campus

Seated from L-R): Ms Rajneesh Charan of Fiji Sugar Corporation, Mrs Queenie Thompson, Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of USP Council, Dr Pramila Devi, USP Lautoka Campus Director, with the invited speakers.

Everyone needs to be involved in addressing the issues of Climate Change because there is no Planet B.

This was the sentiment expressed by Mr Kunal Singh, a Masters Researcher at The University of the South Pacific (USP) during the Climate Change Seminar held at the university’s Lautoka Campus on 11 July 2018 as part of its 50th Anniversary Celebrations.

The event was attended by Mr Winston Thompson, USP’s Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mrs Queenie Thompson, Dr Pramila Devi, Lautoka Campus Director, Provincial Council officers, Government ministry officers, and staff and students of Lautoka Campus.

Mr Singh expressed that climate change is nothing new adding that it has happened before, it is still happening and will continue to occur in the future.

In his presentation, he talked about the science of Climate Change, its indicators, local and regional impacts and the future.

Mr Singh also talked about the research that he is undertaking at USP, which is based on investigating past tropical cyclones using lakes, which is an emerging scientific field of paleoclimatology – the study of climatic conditions and their causes and effects.

This, he said is something new in Fiji and the region, and one which is highly significant in terms of addressing our vulnerability as a Pacific Island country.

He said that his interest has always been to study natural hazards and look at past disasters to predict future occurrences.

Mr Singh’s research site is Lake Tagimoucia, Taveuni which is Fiji’s only natural lake and is a volcanic crater in-filled basin.

Another speaker, Mr Vinesh Kumar, a PhD candidate at USP presented on Climate Change and Droughts, and an overview of his PhD research on droughts in Fiji.

Mr Kumar emphasized that drought is only a natural hazard to the vulnerable human use systems but turns into natural disaster only when it occurs in real-time and causes severe damage and disruption to the human livelihood systems.

He added that the drought risks that the economic and social structures may face are not only determined by the degree of exposure to the elements of droughts but also by the vulnerability of these systems.

Mr Kumar explained that under changing climate it is expected that the capacity of the atmosphere to hold water will increase resulting in the change in frequency of extreme rainfall events, and as a result, an increase in the rate of evaporation will lead to increased dry periods.

“Under such conditions, the frequency and severity of droughts in future would increase,” he highlighted.

The PhD candidate said that his research is aimed at representing the first comprehensive analysis of drought in Fiji through analysis of historical and current climate data, surveys of farming communities, and analysis of historic drought responses by the Ministry of Agriculture, adding that, “the outcome of the analysis will be used to develop an Agricultural Drought Management Plan for Western Viti Levu.”

The other two (2) presenters were Ms Lusiana Dalituicama, Project Officer at Mamanuca Environment Society who presented on Climate Change Mitigation Projects in the Mamanuca Group, and Mr Rusiate Valenitabua, Provincial Conservation Officer at Ba Provincial Council Office who talked about Climate Change Project Facilitation in the province of Ba in Fiji.

In thanking the presenters for an informative discussion on climate change and the projects undertaken to mitigate climate change at the community level, Mr Thompson said that climate change is massively important issue across the Pacific.

He added that the wealth of knowledge shared from academia, research and community level is the kind of collaboration the University needs to have, and added that such partnerships should continue in the future.

Dr Devi said that staff and students at the Lautoka Campus have been quite active about climate change issues.  She shared some activities related to climate change that include awareness sessions, launching of banner for the reduction of carbon footprint and pot plant project initiated by a PhD student at the Campus.

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