POCCA Project First Authors Meeting


01st – 02nd September 2022. – The Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment Project (POCCA) is a three-year project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (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. The main output of the project is to provide an assessment of local adaptation and resilience capacity and innovation at the community level and how information can be incorporated into national and regional climate change policies, projects and strategies. It will also provide a Pacific-based assessment by Pacific experts in addressing the changing climate and ocean conditions to the global community and inform the 2023 Pacific Islands Climate and Ocean Assessment as part of the UNFCCC stock take.

The POCCA project gives voice to Pacific Indigenous knowledge systems and how they can work together in harmony with western scientific approaches. Pacific Indigenous knowledge of climate change is based on centuries of knowledge production, daily experience and observation, continuous adaptation, innovative responses to disasters, development of resilient mechanisms, protection of the environment and the centrality of interconnections between the ocean, sky, land, land people. This interdisciplinary approach of the project allows for integrated data which is often missing from Pacific regional positions on climate change. The data derived from this assessment will strengthen policy framing for Pacific governments as well as be useful for global negotiations to promote the unique Pacific voices and experiences.

On the 1-2nd September 2022, the First Author’s Talanoa convened at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. The “talanoa” brought together almost 50 Pacific experts from various areas of expertise ranging from: Policy, Socioeconomic and cultural, biodiversity and ecology, Ocean, community health, food security and water security, human security and social protection, conflict and instability, infrastructure development, shifting social patterns, climate mobility, cultural heritage and loss and damage.

The USP team to the First Authors meeting was well represented by academics and researchers namely from the Pacific Center of Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), School of Agriculture, Geography, Environment, Oceans and Natural Science (SAGEONS) and School of Law and Social Sciences (SoLASS).

The Director of PaCE-SD and Professor Ocean and Climate Change, Professor Elisabeth Holland mentioned that the first author talanoa for the Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment focused on ‘Re-balancing’ the ocean and climate narratives to center Pacific voices at the foreground where they belong. She added that the concept of ‘Re-balancing’ was beautifully introduced in the opening keynote address by his excellency Afioga Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi and infused the discussions throughout the conference.

Professor Holland alluded that “the assessment is a groundbreaking research undertaking ‘for the Pacific, of the Pacific, and by the Pacific’. The myriad languages gifted from throughout the Pacific and around the world reflected the complexities of the impacts of the climate crisis on Pacific communities. It was also an honor to partake in the miracle, the “Mana”, of Pacific researchers facing one of the greatest challengers of our time as Pacific navigators for our Blue Planet”.

We are grateful to the Distinguished Professor Steven Ratuva, Dr. Christian Tausa, David Garcia, Dr. Dalila Gharbaoui, and the Distinguished Professor Dr. Brownyn Hayward as well as the various staff and students of the Macmillian Brown Center and the University of Canterbury for the wonderful and enlightening conference. The USP POCCA team looks forward to reciprocating soon in planning the Second POCCA Authors meeting.

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