Conference proceedings

Community-level adaptation to climate change: action in the Pacific

Proceedings of the Regional Workshop on Community-Level Adaptation to Climate Change, Suva, Fiji: 21-23 March 2005
Climate change mitigation Disasters Poverty Sustainability Climate change adaptation Communities Pacific Area

Pacific island people are currently experiencing the adverse effects of climate change on their way of life. Adaptation could significantly reduce these effects. To reduce the vulnerability of Pacific Islanders to climate change, the resilience of their cultural, ecological, and socio-economic systems needs to be enhanced. This can be achieved through building institutional capacity and implementing suitable adaptation measures at the community level.

Over the years, a number of climate change-related projects have been implemented in the region. These have focused largely on building institutional capacity and assessments of vulnerability. It was not until 2002 that the first climate change adaptation implementation project was piloted in the Pacific region — in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu. This initiative, titled ‘Capacity Building for the Development of Adaptation Measures in Pacific Island Countries’ (CBDAMPIC), was funded by Canadian International Development Assistance (CIDA) and executed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

This project is an important global development, as the Pacific now has some of the first countries to actually implement adaptation pilots at the community level. Decision 11 of the First Conference of the Parties (COP 1) laid out three stages of adaptation. Stage I focuses mainly on planning and impact studies and appropriate capacity-building; Stage II on measures for implementation, including further capacity-building; and Stage III on actions to facilitate adequate adaptation, including insurance and other adaptation measures as envisaged by Article 4.1(b) and Article 4.4 on resilience of vulnerable ecosystems.

The CBDAMPIC project is the first Stage III type project to be piloted in the Pacific region. It is one of only a handful of projects world-wide that has actually achieved tangible improvements in the capacity of countries and communities to deal with risks associated with climate change. At the regional workshop to conclude the project (Suva, 21–23 March 2005), the distinctive accomplishments of the CBDAMPIC project received accolades from experts, representatives of the pilot countries, and non-participating country representatives alike. The CBDAMPIC project methodology was proposed as a preferred model for international adaptation efforts, including in the Caribbean.

Representatives of the pilot project countries have indicated their intentions to seek support to continue addressing real needs of communities and improving the livelihoods of people in their national programs and their international interventions. They noted particularly: the practical focus of the project, the ability to go beyond studies into implementation, the engagement of communities, and the flexibility provided by CIDA and SPREP to allow countries to adapt an approach to be effective in their countries.

As countries and organisations in the region review their Pacific Islands Climate Change Framework, provide direction for national and regional programmes, and attract donors (including from the fields of Climate Change, disaster management, poverty reduction, livelihood enhancement and sustainable development), it was suggested by participants that the adaptation component be based largely on the CBDAMPIC experience and model.

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