UN climate change committee visits Fiji villages

The Adaptation Committee of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) visited the Sabeto District in Fiji on Wednesday.

‘The purpose of the field visit is to show the members of the Adaptation Committee not just the vulnerability and challenges faced by local communities within Fiji but also to showcase some of the adaptation measures and actions that are being taken by local communities in responding to climate change impacts,’ says Luke Daunivalu, Representative for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to the Adaptation Committee.

The committee members are nominated by their government and regional groupings and act in their personal capacity. In his professional capacity, Luke Daunivalu is the Deputy Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations stationed in New York.
Other members of the committee travelled to Fiji from Austria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Jamaica, Japan, Malawi, Maldives, Montenegro, Sudan and the United States.

The Adaptation Committee toured a community seedling nursery and demonstration farm on the grounds of the Vaturu District School in Nagado. Here, the local community is implementing a climate change adaptation project with the aim of increasing food security. They are receiving assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture and specialist staff of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific region’s principal technical and scientific organisation.

The adaptation project includes the propagation of ‘climate-ready’ crop varieties that are able to resist the ravages of climate variability and change. Typical staple crop species, such as dalo (taro), are investigated by the SPC Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT), and the more resilient and better performing strains are catalogued, stored and distributed to Pacific Island countries and territories.

Next stop for the Adaptation Committee was the village of Naboutini where they sat side by side with community members, receiving disaster risk reduction training. The training is designed to better prepare communities for emergencies, such as cyclones and flooding. It is integrated into adaptation initiatives because of the relationship between climate change and disaster risk management.

Similar training is provided at the community level throughout the Pacific, earning the region a reputation as a leading light globally in the integration of climate change and disaster risk management agendas for resilient development.

The Naboutini locals answered numerous questions put to them by the Adaptation Committee, including their motivation to participate in disaster risk reduction training, its benefits and how it can be employed effectively in community-based climate change adaptation initiatives. The committee was also treated to an impromptu and very impressive choral performance by the village at the end of the session.

‘It has been an interesting experience, having members of the committee here in Fiji, because it is the first time many of them have visited a small island developing state. It is a unique opportunity for Fiji to represent all of the SIDS and present the challenges they face,’ says Daunivalu.

He says the main purpose of the Adaptation Committee is to, ‘promote coherence on all adaptation-related activities under the Framework Convention on Climate Change and to a certain extent outside the Convention. There is a lot effort being put into adaptation activities and measures (globally) and money is being poured in by NGOs and governments, so the main objective is to bring these together in a coherent and cohesive way.’

SPC is working with other regional organisations and development partners in the Pacific to try and realise the maximum benefit of the available resources for climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.

The villages of Nagado and Naboutini and others around the Pacific receive the support of the United States Agency for International Development through SPC. Similarly, the Australian Agency for International Development supports CePaCT and numerous other climate change adaptation initiatives. The European Union and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) also provide substantial support for climate change adaptation through SPC in the Pacific region.

The site visits were scheduled to precede the Fourth Meeting of the Adaptation Committee in Nadi, Fiji from the 5–7 September 2013.