Biodiversity & Ecosystem Management Headlines

Nature-based Solutions have a place in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction in Pacific Island countries

MEDIA RELEASE FROM FIJI MINISTRY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, HOUSING AND ENVIRONMENT.

25 October 2017, Suva, Fiji - Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Environment, Mr. Joshua Wycliffe encouraged Pacific countries to embrace Ecosystem or Nature-based Solutions to climate change at a Pacific Regional Dialogue on linking action on climate change, biodiversity management and sustainable development at the Holiday Inn in Suva this week.

"Countries have nothing to lose. It doesn't cost much. It may be as simple as maintaining what we have. And of course, repairing the ecosystems that have been damaged.

"In 2016, Tropical Cyclone Winston displaced more than half a million people in Fiji, incurring damages of around 2 billion dollars. Significantly our ecosystems such as coastlines, forests and corals were extensively damaged resulting in disruptions in economic activities and a drop in our GDP.

Permanent Secretary Mr. Wycliffe and Fijis Assistant Minister for Local Government Housing and Environment Honorable Lorna Eden welcoming participants to the Dialogue at a cocktail hosted by Fiji copy
Permanent Secretary, Mr. Wycliffe and Fiji's Assistant Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Honorable Lorna Eden welcoming participants to the Dialogue at a cocktail hosted by Fiji. 

"We all appreciate that ecosystems form the very foundations of our lives, our social and economic activities and our lives are intricately tied to the well-being of ecosystems.

"These ecosystems can either make or break our future. We need to discuss ways to maintain healthy ecosystems around us. For example healthy corals which do not bleach quickly and forests that can recover faster, watersheds and wetlands that are interconnected to provisions of clean water. The overall conditions of our corals, forests and mangroves are critical to reducing the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

The purpose of the Dialogue is to identify opportunities for making sure that biodiversity and climate change policies speak to each other, and that climate change policies integrate nature-based solutions.
"I am hoping that the outcomes of this Dialogue will go as far as COP23 and will also contribute to resilience efforts in the Region.

Participants  at the Regional Dialogue on Biodiversity and climate change this week
Participants  at the Regional Dialogue on Biodiversity and climate change this week.

"I encourage this Dialogue to come up with some model or pathway on how we can put a dollar value on the ecosystem services and also to put forward some tangible solutions to help Pacific countries move from policy to action in ecosystem approaches to climate change." Mr. Wycliffe said.

Cook Islands representative at the Dialogue, Mr. William Tuivaga of the Prime Minister's office pointed out that Ecosystem-based Approaches is not a new concept to the Pacific.

"The terms and acronyms we use today like DRR, CCA, mitigation and adaptation are new to our people but the activities are not. Our Pacific ancestors have been practicing these for thousands of years to safe guard their natural resources and their families. We exist today because of this knowledge and these practices. They too have come through cyclones and other natural threats.

20 metres of Nacula villages coastline Fiji embedded with 5 coir logs an example of nature-based solution. The activity was supported by WWF-Pacific. Photo - WWF-Pacific- Ravai Vafoou
20 metres of Nacula village's coastline (Fiji) embedded with 5 coir logs, an example of nature-based solution. The activity was supported by WWF-Pacific. Photo - WWF-Pacific- Ravai Vafoou

Now and more than ever, we Pacific Islanders need to look back at our traditional ecosystem knowledge and practices as these are the tools that will help us cope with the impacts of Climate Change."

For example; there are traditional signs for cyclones like an abundance in Kuru (breadfruit) or the twisting of banana tree leaves. Sometimes if we slow down, stop talking and listen carefully, we will hear the cries of Mother nature – saying that enough is enough."

The five-day Dialogue this week (23-27 October) at the Holiday Inn in Suva is convened by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and SwedBio at Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC).

The event comprises of a combination of dialogue sessions (23-25 October) and field visits (26-27 October) to various sites in Viti Levu to learn from Fiji's ongoing efforts towards the achievement of its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and in the context of its upcoming role as President of UNFCCC COP23.

For further information please contact: Mrs Sarah Tawaka, Senior Environment Officer (Resource Management Unit) sarah.tawaka@environment.gov.fj and Ms. Iva Josifini, Communications Officer, Department of Environment, iva.josivini@environment.gov.fj or +679 3311699.
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