The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Pacific Ocean & Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA) project will give Pacific Island countries the opportunity to drive and strengthen their own climate change policies.
These were the words of Rebekah Robertson, the Adviser-Climate Change and Environment for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT) while attending the POCCA 2nd Authors Conference in Nadi from June 14-16.
Speaking on behalf of MFAT, the major funder for the POCCA project, Ms Robertson said the project gave Pacific Islanders a chance to tell their own story.
“I think what was recognised over the past day or so is that for so long, I guess climate work has been done on behalf of the Pacific,” she said.
“I think this project is just an incredible opportunity for the Pacific to drive the way forward for their own options and direction to incorporate in their own policy.”
She added that the POCCA project would enable a deeper understanding of lived experiences of Pacific people who, for decades, had felt the impacts of climate change.
Sharing Ms Robertson’s sentiments, Emma Sale, one of the two external reviewers for the POCCA report, said the project was timely given that Pacific Islanders were finally taking charge.
“It’s (POCCA) the first one in the region that has used an approach that is led by Pacific Islanders as well as involving people from academia and the development world,” Ms Sale said.
“This is happening at the right time, and the people who are at the forefront of this work really have a genuine interest with so much depth and knowledge on climate change issues in the Pacific.”
A total of 80 authors converged at the Tanoa International Hotel over the course of three days to discuss and share ideas on finalising their respective chapters for the POCCA report, which is the major output of the four project outputs. The other outputs are research papers, policy briefs, Digital Database, and Interactive Map. The Digital Database and the Interactive Map were also launched during the opening ceremony of the POCCA 2nd Authors Conference by Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Prof. Biman Prasad and MFAT representative, Ms Robertson.
The three-year project is funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). It is a collaboration between the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), The University of the South Pacific (USP), and the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury (UC).