Call to promote nature-based solutions widely in the region as an option to tackle climate change

Nature-based solutions ought to be promoted more widely in the Pacific region as a viable option to tackling climate change.

This was a key message at a side event organised by the Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change Project (PEBACC) at the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Suva this week, 2-3 October 2017.

Nature-based solutions are interventions that use nature and the natural functions of healthy ecosystems to build the resilience of communities and respond to the impacts of climate change and other stressors such as population growth, natural disasters, deforestation, pollution, and unsustainable management of natural resources.

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Tanasio Tumoi of Naselesele village on Taveuni agrees that mangrove planting is a nature-based solution that his community must embrace to protect their shoreline from increasing coastal erosion. Photo: PEBACC

Speaking at the event at the Holiday Inn in Suva, Project Manager of the PEBACC Project, Mr. Herman Timmermans highlighted that nature-based solutions are relevant and appropriate for Pacific island nations.

"Pacific island people have a close connection to their natural environment. They rely heavily on ecosystem services and natural resources to support their national economies and community livelihoods. Therefore, it makes sense for the countries to adequately recognise and value the opportunities and resilience provided by protecting and restoring natural ecosystems and the services they provide and use this as a key response to climate change adaptation.

"Mangroves for example, have the natural capacity to break wave energy and at the same time provide habitat for living organisms along the coast of islands that are a source of food for communities. These are natural functions of healthy ecosystems.

"It is critical for the Pacific to adequately recognise and value the opportunities and resilience provided by protecting and restoring natural ecosystems and the services they provide." Mr. Timmermans added.

Examples of coastal wave attenuation modelling done on Taveuni island in Fiji by the Water Institute of the Gulf through the PEBACC project were also showcased at the event as a decision making tool for adaptation on the island.

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Dr Tim Carruthers presenting examples of waves attenuation modelling done on Taveuni in Fiji by the Water Institute of the Gulf through the PEBACC Project at the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Suva.
Photo: PEBACC

Dr Tim Carruthers of the Water Institute of the Gulf explained that the modelling approach is used to assist the communities of Somosomo and Naselesele on Taveuni to plan ecosystem based adaptation actions to limit shoreline erosion.

Fiji's Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Environment, Joshua Wycliff in his remarks spoke highly of healthy ecosystems and the need to maintain these natural systems amidst development pressure in our island countries.

While most Pacific islands are implementing climate change adaptation programmes, only a limited number explicitly address ecosystem approaches and their implementation, including the assessment of ecosystem services as a basis for long term resilience to climate change impacts.

"It is time for Pacific island governments and communities to value and use ecosystem services as a key response to climate change adaptation. It is time to scale up the ecosystem approach and integrate it into policy and whole of country implementation." Mr. Timmermans concluded.

The PEBACC Project is a five year project implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the governments of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

The Project focusses on strengthening and protecting the role of natural ecosystem services to enhance resilience to climate change.

To learn more about the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable, visit: www.sprep.org or for further information on nature-based solutions, contact Jilda Shem, Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change Project (PEBACC) Communications Officer – jildas@sprep.org
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