After completing nine months cross-context research in Eastern Fiji, I wrote my Master’s thesis to answer this question: To what extent do local concerns, with regard to climate change, inform adaptation policies and outcomes in Eastern Fiji?
Climate change is now being presented as the biggest future threat to humanity. Many people living in the Pacific Islands are experiencing this threat through the extreme negative impacts of climate change without largely having produced the human-induced causes. The Fijian Government has brought this Pacific narrative to global attention and seeks to utilise additional funding and resources to support Fijians affected by climate change.
The 2010 Cancun Adaptation Framework mandates that adapting to the impacts of climate change must now receive the same priority as mitigating the rate of longterm global warming. One mechanism for delivering climate change adaptation in the Pacific is the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation into the Fiji Government’s current concentration for progress in development.
Responses to this concentration for progress are mixed: some consider that this strategy has and will deliver good results for Fijians, and some feel this strategy is incongruous with a Pacific way of thinking.
The ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change depend on the nature and level of development. This thesis contributes to discussion on the linkages between adaptation and development by exploring the question, ‘To what extent do local community concerns, with regard to climate, inform adaptation policy and outcomes in Eastern Fiji?’ The findings from five months of cross-context research in Fiji indicate that there is room for improvement in adaptation policy and outcomes so that the best features of the Pacific can be protected. A journey through Pacific ways
of knowing and doing may offer guidance in how adaptation can be adjusted.
My conclusion, as a researcher, can be expressed in my thesis’ epilogue: I am now forever in the Va – the space that relates. This space is growing smaller in time yet expands as I read the Fiji Times online, wrap my sulu around my waist, and sit on the front of the boat, waiting. I watch our pet stingray at the marina moving under the surface of the water. I wear a red flower clip in my hair as I visit the people I met in Fiji again and again, across the ocean. I watch the tide turn.