In the Pacific Islands and many developing and emerging countries worldwide, the informal economy far outsizes the formal one, playing a vital role in the survival of urban and rural households and absorbing expanding working-age populations.
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.
One month after the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu was hit by two Category 4 cyclones within three days, food scarcity and prices are rising in the country following widespread devastation of the agriculture sector.
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.
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.