Life in the Pacific Islands is rapidly changing as a result of climate change, which poses a serious threat to people’s livelihoods.
Recently, The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA) research team visited communities in the island of Gau and the Province of Ba which enabled the collection of data as well as the documentation of community stories and indigenous knowledge in relation to climate change adaptation and community resilience.
Extreme weather patterns and conditions are just some of the many common threads that link these communities together, regardless of their geographical location.
Relocated communities also face similar challenges, which are worsened by issues around land ownership, and call into question their sense of belonging. Sea level rise, coastal erosion and seawater intrusion, in particular, all act as key displacement factors.
The most serious consequences of the impacts of climate change for the communities visited and gathered through these community interviews include the loss of coastal infrastructure and land, more intense cyclones and droughts, the failure of subsistence crops and coastal fisheries, the loss of coral reefs and mangroves, and the spread of infectious diseases coupled over recent years due to the impacts of climate change.
As a result, their traditional ways of life and the dissemination of traditional knowledge are also under threat. The objective of the POCCA project is to document these through their stories and interviews captured via audio and video recordings and presented in the Regional POCCA assessment report.
Project Team Leader Dr. Hilda Waqa-Sakiti added that “the POCCA assessment report will also provide useful in regional and global negotiations to promote the unique Pacific voices and experiences in its submission to the UNFCCC Global Stock Take in 2023 and through the book publication.”
She added, “it will also assist Pacific leaders in decision-making towards better aligning and framing Climate Change policies for the region.”
The POCCA Project is a three-year project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), New Zealand co-ventured by the Pacific Center of Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), The University of the South Pacific (USP) and the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury (UC) under separate grant funding arrangements.