Fiji and the small Pacific Island states more focused on adaptation than mitigation


22 March 2016

FIJI and the small Pacific Island states are more focused on adaptation than mitigation when it comes to climate change.

And technical assistance on adaptation from the international organisations should be vital.

This was revealed by the Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the International Monetary Fund Asia and Asia Pacific conference in India last week.

Speaking at a panel discussion on the topic "Developing Asia: Challenges of Climate Change and Economic Resilience", Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said there needed to be a wider focus on adaptation in the smaller Pacific Island countries

"Fiji's carbon footprint or greenhouse emission is less than about 0.03 per cent.," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"So that puts into perspective our contribution and I think other Pacific Island countries are lower too but we have made a commitment to reduce our greenhouse emission by 30 per cent by 2030.

"While we are engaging in mitigation because the carbon footprints are so low, yet we are the cold face of climate change so our real test is to adapt.

"So adaptation is more focus for us. For Fiji and other Pacific Island countries, we need to seek funding for adaption. We have relocated three villages and we need to do more.

"With climate change just to give you a simple example, normally we used to get a cyclone coming up from the North-West of the country and some came from the North-East and a number of times the cyclones lingered around the islands within Fiji.

"This is very different. Just a few months before that is the one year of drought. So we are running from one stream to the other.

"I think reliance of course is critical and you need resilience to survive but it's very dependent on your ability to adapt. I think to put into perspective, as a Pacific Islander, we are very different to the Asian countries we don't usually have the population base so our challenges are very different.

"To put into perspective, the Pacific Island countries have 10 million people of which eight million came from Papua New Guinea.

"So the ability to attract investment or the ability for example to engage in carbon trading or carbon emission is very limited.

"Resilience is very important in terms of adaption of how you build back infrastructure, so while we have a challenge as a country as we have the Northern-west part of the country where the electricity went down, so when you going to build back, you going to build underground which is very expensive.

"If you're going to have a lot of salt water going into your field and into your farm land and obviously your ability to adapt and how you adapt will mean how resilient you are.

"I think adaptation is critical in how Pacific Island countries are different to adaptation measures and what are some of the treatment. I suppose that we need as opposed to larger economies in the Asia-Pacific region."

Administrator of the UNDP Helen Clark said with climate change threatening to bring worsening weather for up to maybe 60 years, adding: "The level of resilience we are going to have now is going to keep lifting and this is going to be Fiji's experience too."

She said Fiji was used to tropical cyclones.

President of Asian Development Bank Takehiko Nakao said COP21 was a great achievement and we should start implementing the commitment by the countries and including international institutions such as the bank.

Mr Nakao said ADB had announced doubling their climate funding both mitigation and adaptation.