Pacific people live at the nexus of oceans, climate, and food systems, and the interaction of climate and ocean is raising sea temperatures and threatening habitats and resources vital to the region’s sustenance, Palau’s President Surangel Whipps, Jr., said at the launch of an effort to protect and rejuvenate the region's ecosystems and empower communities through to the year 2050—in what is considered to be the biggest single conservation effort in history—Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity.
Growing up in Palau in the western Pacific Ocean, Surangel Whipps Jr. played on the reefs and spearfished on an island teeming with birds, giant clams, fish, and turtles.
Climate change and warming ocean waters are causing tuna fisheries to migrate to international waters, away from a country’s jurisdiction, thereby putting the food and economic security of many Pacific Island countries and territories at risk.
Food is everything to the culture and identity of the Pacific island countries.
Climate change impacts of rising sea levels and higher temperatures threaten islanders’ food security, which is largely dependent on fisheries and subsistence agriculture. Almost 70 percent of islanders rely on agriculture for their livelihood.
Pacific island countries are highly vulnerable to climate change, and several have disappeared – and more could sink under the sea owing to a rise in water levels.
The only thing Taren Chilia remembers about Cyclone Pam was that it flattened his school in Vanuatu, washing away books, equipment, and – well, almost his dreams too.
Today, the window of opportunity for scaled-up global climate action to prevent disastrous global warming and build resilience in the most vulnerable nations is closing fast. And a major impediment to reducing emissions and accelerating climate adaptation is both lack of financial investment and major bureaucratic hurdles to accessing those funds that are available.
Safeguarding plentiful, nutritious supplies of food for the present generation of Pacific Islanders and those who come in the future is a frontline goal in the wake of the pandemic and the continual threat of climate extremes to island farming. But the region, where 50 to 70 percent of people depend on agriculture and fisheries for sustenance and income, is now one step ahead in that objective. The region’s agricultural gene bank, established by the development organisation, Pacific Community (SPC), is now acclaimed as world-class and a leader in building future food supplies.
Holothurians, also known as sea cucumbers, are an important source of income for coastal communities in the Pacific. Their exploitation has grown over the past decades, targeting international markets. In some parts of the world, they are considered a delicacy where they can fetch very high prices consequently, they are being overfished in some areas of the Pacific region.
Tonga was still picking up the pieces after the Hunga volcanic eruption and tsunami waves when the pandemic reached its shores.
Before the pandemic emerged in 2020, health services in many Pacific Island countries were under-resourced, under-funded and under-staffed. Now following recent outbreaks of COVID-19, advancing the capacity and development of health and medical services in vulnerable nations, such as Tonga and Kiribati, is increasingly urgent.
Oceans play a pivotal role in regulating the world’s climate and maintaining the conditions for human life on earth. And they are a crucial source of sustenance and economic wellbeing in many developing countries, including small island developing states. But Pacific Islanders are deeply concerned about the fate of the oceans if world leaders fail to secure the pledges needed to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 Degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels at the next COP27 climate change summit in November.
Tuvalu, a small atoll island nation in the Central Pacific Ocean, is one of few countries in the world to have so far evaded the pandemic. But, while it has achieved a milestone with no recorded cases of COVID-19, its population of about 11,931 continues to battle food uncertainties and poor nutrition. These challenges, present long before the pandemic emerged, have been exacerbated by lockdown restrictions and economic hardships during the past year and a half.
The Pacific has been battling the spread of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles (CRB) for years and is now challenged by the invasion of a new CRB biotype, the CRB-Guam strain, that has spread to seven Pacific Island countries in just a decade leaving thousands of dead palms in its wake. The Guam strain, together with much more established biotype CRB-S has hampered the success of renovation programmes for mature tall palms as well as newly emergent, high-value coconut product industries (such as virgin oil and coconut water) that offer economic opportunities for communities in the region.
Before the pandemic, many Pacific Island countries grappled with low numbers of students completing secondary education. Now experts in the region are concerned that the closure of schools to contain the spread of COVID-19, and the economic downturn, will lead to even more students dropping out of education early.
Fourteen Pacific Island Countries have enacted specific legislation to address domestic violence. While these laws have been developed to respond to domestic violence, implementation continues to be a challenge. It is affected by various factors that include practical social, cultural, religious, political, environmental and economic challenges.
Abundant with diverse coral and fish species, the South-West Pacific reefs play a critical role in the marine ecosystems and economies of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs). While there is no question that climate change is affecting coral, the level and type of impact is not uniform. To help us better understand why these differences exist, a team of marine scientists from New Caledonia set off on a scientific mission to sample coral species around the mainland of this Pacific Island nation.
Last week, the Tonga Laboratory Services completed the installation of a 4 module GeneXpert testing equipment used for diagnosis of COVID-19 infection and to increase SARS-coV-2 testing capacity.
Robby Nena is one of the many farmers and fishermen on the frontline of climate change in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), where coastal flooding and erosion, variable and heavy rainfall, increased temperature, droughts and other extreme weather events are becoming all too common.
In April 2021, the Pacific Community (SPC) coordinated the 14th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and the 7th Meeting of the Pacific Ministers for Women, hosted by the Government of French Polynesia. The conference brought together decision-makers, development partners, research institutions and civil society organisations. Following this landmark event, SPC will continue to publish portraits of inspiring gender champions who are at the heart of Pacific development programmes.
Policymakers worldwide consistently rank water scarcity among the greatest risks faced by humanity. In Pacific island countries and territories, where water resources are limited, it has become essential to reassess and adapt water planning and decision-making processes taking into account the current and future impacts of climate change.