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I Implementing Climate Change Adaptation in Rural Areas and Communities

Implementing Climate Change Adaptation Interventions in Remote Outer Islands of the Pacific Island Region

Gillian Cambers, Pasha Carruthers, Titilia Rabuatoka, Sanivalati Tubuna and Juliana Ungaro

Background

Climate change is one of the most serious threats to sustainable development in the Pacific Island countries, and indeed threatens the survival of atoll countries and communities. For the purposes of this paper climate change is defined as per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and includes changes in the climate due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases as well as climate variability (IPCC 2014).

The Pacific Island countries span a large area of the Pacific Ocean from around 15°N to 23°S of the equator and are immensely diverse in terms of their history, geography, climate, natural resource base and culture. Geologically they range from high volcanic islands to low lying atolls just a few metres above sea level. Many of the countries consist of archipelagos spread across several degrees of latitude and longitude, e.g. the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has 607 islands which extend from latitude 1°S to 14°N, and longitude 135°E to 166°E. The 14 Pacific Island countries are considered Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a group of countries that share similar sustainable development challenges including small populations, limited resources, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks, dependence on international trade, and fragile environments. SIDS was first recognized as a distinct group of developing countries at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in June 1992. Table 1.1 illustrates some of the variability between the countries.

G. Cambers (H) • P. Carruthers • T. Rabuatoka • S. Tubuna • J. Ungaro Geosciences Division, Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

T. Rabuatoka e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

W. Leal Filho (ed.), Climate Change Adaptation in Pacific Countries, Climate Change Management, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-50094-2_1

Table 1.1 Characteristics of the Pacific Island countries (Adapted from: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 2011)

Land

area

(km2)

Number of islands larger than 10 km2

Exclusive economic zone area

(million

km2)

Maximum

Population

(2010

estimate

except

Vanuatu)

Country

height

Languages

Government

level (m)

Cook

Islands

Self-governing country in free association with New Zealand

240

1.800

652

11,400

English, Maori

Federated States of

English, Chuukese,

702

2.978

791

111,364

Pohnpeian, Yapese, Kosraean, Ulithian,

Independent with free association arrangements with USA until 2023

Micronesia

Carolinian

Fiji

18,333

37

1.300

1,323

844,420

English, Fijian, Hindi

Independent state

Kiribati

811

18

3,600

87

100,835

I-Kiribati, English

Democratic republic

Marshall

Islands

Republic in free association with the USA until 2023

181

2.131

54,439

Marshallese, English

Nauru

21

0.320

70

9,976

Nauruan, English

Republic with parliamentary system

Niue

259

0.390

68

1,470

Niuean, English

Free association with New Zealand

Palau

488

4

0.629

214

20,518

Palauan, English

Republic in free association with USA

Papua New Guinea

462,243

20

3.120

4,697

6,744,955

Pidgin, English + more than 700 other languages

Independent state

Samoa

2,935

2

0.120

1,860

183,123

Samoa, English

Independent state

Solomon

Islands

28,785

26

1.340

2,447

549,574

English, Pidgin + 87 other languages

Independent state

Tonga

649

10

0.700

1,030

103,365

Tongan, English

Independent kingdom

Tuvalu

26

1.300

11,149

Tuvaluan, English

Independent state

Vanuatu

12,281

30

0.664

1,700

  • 234,023
  • (2009)

Bislama, French, English + 105 other languages

Republic

Yellow shaded countries are those discussed in this paper

People living in the Pacific Island countries are already experiencing changes and variability in their climate such as shifts in rainfall patterns, higher air and sea surface temperatures, changes in extreme events and rising sea levels (Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 2011). For example in the Pacific Island countries, air temperatures rose between 0.08 and 0.20 °C per decade over the past 50 years; sea level rise varied across the Pacific and ranged between 3 and 12 mm year-1 over the period 1993-2009, which is higher than the global average; ocean acidification increased (with aragonite saturation values generally falling to around or below 4 since the mid-1990s).

These changes are affecting peoples’ lives and livelihoods, as well as important industries, such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism. In recognition of the seriousness of the adverse effects of climate change, the Pacific Island countries and territories developed the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change (PIFACC) 2006-2015 (SPREP 2006) to build their resilience to the risks and impacts of climate change. A new framework for the region is currently under development for the post-2016 period.

The PIFACC developed an action plan around the following principles:

  • • Implementing adaptation measures
  • • Governance and decision-making
  • • Improving our understanding of climate change
  • • Education, training and awareness
  • • Contributing to global greenhouse gas reduction
  • • Partnerships and cooperation

The PIFACC provided an overall framework for the many climate change activities, projects and programmes implemented by national governments, regional and international organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society over the decade. A review of the PIFACC was presented at the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in May 2015 (SPREP 2015).

For the purposes of this paper climate change adaptation is defined as “The process of adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their climate and its effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities” (IPCC 2014). Over the period of the PIFACC there have been numerous climate change adaptation interventions ranging from community-based to multi-country initiatives and important outcomes have been achieved and lessons have been learnt.

This paper will focus particularly on some climate change adaptation activities and outcomes of the Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States (GCCA: PSIS) project over the period 2011-2015 (GCCA: PSIS 2015). These activities will be described and discussed through the lens of outer islands development.

The GCCA: PSIS project was funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). The overall objective of the GCCA: PSIS project was to support the governments of nine Pacific smaller island states, namely Cook Islands, FSM, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu, in their efforts to tackle the adverse effects of climate change.

The project approach was to assist the nine countries design and implement practical on-the-ground climate change adaptation demonstration projects in conjunction with mainstreaming climate change into line ministries and national development plans. The rationale was that this would help countries move from an ad hoc project-by-project approach towards a programmatic approach underpinning an entire sector. The nine countries chose their own sectors based on their national priorities and plans.

Six of the nine countries chose to focus their demonstration projects in outer islands. National partners felt that outer islands had been relatively disregarded in the past with most of the projects being centred in the main island of an archipelago. Thus outer islands, where the need was often greater, had been somewhat neglected.

This paper discusses several on-the-ground climate change adaptation interventions that were implemented in outer island communities in different countries through the GCCA: PSIS project and to analyse the challenges and how they were addressed. The purpose of this paper is to show to development partners working in the Pacific and to the research community that climate change adaptation interventions can be successfully implemented in outer island communities provided the constraints are fully recognised and accommodated in the conceptualisation and planning stages.

 
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