OOS 30-4 - Integrating traditional ecological knowledge and western science in the development of climate change action plans in the Pacific Islands region

Wednesday, August 8, 2012: 2:30 PM
A107, Oregon Convention Center
Elisabeth A. Holland, Sarah Hemstock, Viliamu Iese, Hélène Jacot Des Combe, Aliti Koroi, Leone Limalevu, Karen McNamara, Dan F. Ocherton, Julianne Sutherland, Morgan Wairiu, Antoine De Ramon N'Yeurt and In Country Coordinators, Pacific Center for the Environment and Sustainable Development, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

Pacific Islands (PI) communities have endured countless changes over millennia and have managed to balance their abilities to survive and safeguard traditional ecological knowledge (TEK).  More recently, more communities throughout the Pacific Islands Region are dealing with the impact of climate change as they plan for their children’s livelihoods and the decades to come.  Sea level rise, freshwater availability, and damage from high intensity tropical cyclones all contribute to the increased vulnerability, especially in low lying atolls.  We are implementing a program funded by the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance to develop climate change action plans using a “top-down-bottom-up approach” for 40 demonstration communities in 15 nations throughout the Pacific ACP countries.  The communities are in the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Timor L’este, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.  A central element focuses on the ethical compilation of available traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). 


The elders representing TEK have a critical role in discussing and evaluating the past and projected climate changes for that area and community.  The formulation of the climate change action plan, including disaster and risk management, builds on the TEK as well as climate change projections from down-scaled climate model runs. Respectfully capturing traditional ways of knowing, through elders TEK, are central to all three components of the project: capacity building, evaluating the climate change projects and community engagement.  The elders are recognized as an important source of historical (oral and written) knowledge and can provide useful locally derived and adopted indigenous perspectives  towards the development of , and the likely endurance of the climate change action plans beyond the duration of the project. We hope that this balancing of Western science and TEK will become a benchmark in the development and implementation of climate change action plans in the region.