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Island societies are being disproportionately affected by climate change, a situation likely to continue for some decades. Using an example of an island affected by multiple climate-linked stressors, a situation likely to become more common in the future, this paper examines the nature of these, the ways they are perceived and responded to by local residents, and how these people believe environmental changes might unfold in the future. Yadua Island has one settlement (Denimanu), where most of the 170 residents sustain themselves largely by fishing and farming. Like most Pacific Island settlements, Denimanu is coastal and has experienced progressive shoreline erosion that, a decade ago, washed away a row of houses. In 2012, a storm surge (during Tropical Cyclone Evan) demolished most of the remaining bure (traditional dwellings) in the village. The Fiji Government relocated the affected families to a new upslope location (Korovou), 80–230 m from the beach, and up to 20 m above mean sea level. In March 2017, heavy rain caused a landslide at the back of Denimanu that endangered the primary school, forcing its abandonment. Some questionnaires were given to representative members of the community in an attempt to understand and quantify the pressures that Yadua Island people are subject to, and how they plan to manage them. All respondents believed that climate change has affected their livelihoods and will continue to do so in the future. Clear majorities stated that climate change – especially higher temperatures and increased frequency/magnitudes of heavy-rain events – had negatively affected the supply of marine and terrestrial foods. Most respondents noted increased temperature and decreased precipitation. Clear majorities stated they would eventually relocate their homes further inland, and would consider planting mangroves. Most participants were contemplating the effects of climate change (especially sea-level rise) on food supply, prompting them to consider relocating lowland crop production further inland and planting crops that are more tolerant of saline groundwater and/or periodic wave over-wash. The people of Denimanu recognise how the environment has been changing but debate the ultimate cause of this and therefore how best to respond. It is likely that Yadua will become impacted more by tropical cyclones and sea-level rise (in particular) in the future. To be effective and sustainable, adaptation strategies should acknowledge residents’ worldviews and beliefs rather than try to uncritically substitute them.
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Climate Risk Management
journal homepage:
Responding to multiple climate-linked stressors in a remote island
context: The example of Yadua Island, Fiji
Piérick C.M. Martin
, Patrick Nunn
, Javier Leon
, Neil Tindale
School of Science and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
Small Island Developing States
Sea-level rise
Climate change
Environmental risk
Island societies are being disproportionately aected by climate change, a situation likely to
continue for some decades. Using an example of an island aected by multiple climate-linked
stressors, a situation likely to become more common in the future, this paper examines the nature
of these, the ways they are perceived and responded to by local residents, and how these people
believe environmental changes might unfold in the future. Yadua Island has one settlement
(Denimanu), where most of the 170 residents sustain themselves largely by shing and farming.
Like most Pacic Island settlements, Denimanu is coastal and has experienced progressive
shoreline erosion that, a decade ago, washed away a row of houses. In 2012, a storm surge
(during Tropical Cyclone Evan) demolished most of the remaining bure (traditional dwellings) in
the village. The Fiji Government relocated the aected families to a new upslope location
(Korovou), 80230 m from the beach, and up to 20 m above mean sea level. In March 2017,
heavy rain caused a landslide at the back of Denimanu that endangered the primary school,
forcing its abandonment. Some questionnaires were given to representative members of the
community in an attempt to understand and quantify the pressures that Yadua Island people are
subject to, and how they plan to manage them. All respondents believed that climate change has
aected their livelihoods and will continue to do so in the future. Clear majorities stated that
climate change especially higher temperatures and increased frequency/magnitudes of heavy-
rain events had negatively aected the supply of marine and terrestrial foods. Most respondents
noted increased temperature and decreased precipitation. Clear majorities stated they would
eventually relocate their homes further inland, and would consider planting mangroves. Most
participants were contemplating the eects of climate change (especially sea-level rise) on food
supply, prompting them to consider relocating lowland crop production further inland and
planting crops that are more tolerant of saline groundwater and/or periodic wave over-wash. The
people of Denimanu recognise how the environment has been changing but debate the ultimate
cause of this and therefore how best to respond. It is likely that Yadua will become impacted
more by tropical cyclones and sea-level rise (in particular) in the future. To be eective and
sustainable, adaptation strategies should acknowledge residentsworldviews and beliefs rather
than try to uncritically substitute them.
Received 22 March 2018; Received in revised form 20 April 2018; Accepted 30 April 2018
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (P.C.M. Martin).
Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
Available online 18 May 2018
2212-0963/ © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license
1. Introduction
Climate change is the principal expression of a naturally occurring cycle manifested as the alternation between major ice ages and
interglacial periods. Yet since the early 20th century, a near-unanimous scientic consensus agrees that anthropogenically-generated
greenhouse gas emissions are warming the Earths climate. Climate changes observed since the 1950s have been recognised as
unprecedented and likely to continue into the foreseeable future (IPCC, 2014). The rate of sea-level rise is projected to keep in-
creasing with continued global warming and, even if greenhouse gas emissions are stopped and temperatures stabilise, sea level is
expected to continue rising for centuries (Mengel et al., 2016). Human societies are vulnerable to climate change and the risks it
poses. Climate change may exacerbate ongoing social and economic challenges, particularly in those parts of the world where
societies depend closely on natural resources (Adger et al., 2013).
Oceanic-island societies experience similar pressures to continental societies but their vulnerability is exacerbated by compara-
tively limited physical space, high insularity ratios, exposure to natural hazards, small watersheds, limited terrestrial biodiversity,
narrow range of land resources, and often limited funds and human capacity for addressing livelihood challenges (Albert et al., 2016;
Albert et al., 2017; Briguglio, 2003; Nunn, 2009b; Wong, 2011). Additionally, islands are often comparatively highly exposed to
feedback eects between society and environment (Bunce et al., 2009; Nunn and Kumar, 2017). Using the example of a compara-
tively remote and resource-constrained community, this paper looks at how a typical island society has been aected by and has
responded to multiple climate-linked stressors. This example is considered a glimpse into a situation that is likely to become more
common in the future and is therefore instructive to those seeking to manage the associated climate risks eectively and sus-
1.1. Tropical Pacic islands and climate change
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) located in the tropics, such as the Fiji Islands, are exposed to cyclones and damaging winds,
tsunamis and coastal oods, each of which has the potential to severely impact the local economy (subsistence and commercial),
residential and agricultural areas, transport and communication services, and cause injuries or death to large numbers of people (Lau
et al., 2017, Weir and Virani, 2011). In tropical Pacic SIDS, most people live in rural areas and depend largely on their local
environments marine and terrestrial for foods they consume routinely. Although Fiji has an uncommonly high degree of urba-
nization compared to other Pacic SIDS, its rural coastal communities are typical of thousands throughout the tropical Pacic islands
that are already feeling some eects of rising sea level and are expected to be more profoundly impacted by this in the next
2030 years (Lata and Nunn, 2012; McNamara and Des Combes, 2015; Moceituba and Tsang, 2015).
The ocean around Fijis islands has been rising at about 5.5 mm/year since 1992, almost twice the global average (Friel et al.,
2011; Wairiu et al., 2012). Sea-level rise has caused widespread shoreline erosion, groundwater salinization and has increased the
incidence and magnitude of coastal ooding (Woodruet al., 2013). Compared to the 19852005 average, models project that sea
level around Fiji will have risen by 818 cm by the year 2030 and 4188 cm by the year 2090 (Church et al., 2013). Other modelling
approaches suggest sea level by the end of this century may be almost 200 cm higher (Jevrejeva et al., 2014). Whatever scenario is
adopted, it seems inevitable that sea-level rise in Fiji will accelerate over the next few decades, posing increasing challenges for those
people living along island coasts, as well as the activities they pursue there.
In many coastal areas around the world, there is a signicant gap between scientically-determined risk and perceived risk (Mills
et al., 2016). This gap, in Fiji and elsewhere, frustrates the development of eective and sustainable adaptation strategies for climate
change. It has also been attributed to a lack of awareness about both the nature of scientic projections and their localization, as well
as cultural controls on the perception of risk (Johnston, 2014; Lata and Nunn, 2012). The latter includes short-term planning per-
spectives, spiritual beliefs, and traditional governance structures. For example, in the Rewa River Delta (southeast Viti Levu Island,
Fiji), questioning of local residents revealed that while few people knew about climate change and what caused it, many recognized
the current nature of its (anomalous) manifestations, particularly more frequent ooding and progressive groundwater salinization
(Lata and Nunn, 2012). Further, as in many traditionally communal subsistence societies, individual actions and beliefs are com-
monly subordinated to community leaders (in Fiji, these include hereditary chiefs and spiritual leaders) so that communal decision-
making is often slow to catch up with contemporary (scientic) understanding of observed environmental changes and how best to
respond to these (Nunn, 2009a).
Extreme weather events aect Fiji regularly. Natural disasters such as cyclones, oods, kingtides, earthquakes, tsunamis and
droughts regularly impact the major socio-economic sectors and consequently aect the quality of life of many rural communities
(McNamara and Prasad, 2014). Yet these communities have a long tradition of implementing strategies to cope with extreme
weather, such as particular planting techniques and innovative water storage and food preservation practices. Local experiences and
knowledge have proved essential for sustaining Fijis communities for three millennia. Today, with the growing threats of climate
change, they remain important for community-based responses to extreme weather events, something that may be important when
outside help, particularly in the aftermath of natural disasters, proves sometimes unreliable or too slow (Johnston, 2014; McNamara
and Prasad, 2014).
2. Yadua Island, Fiji, and its climate-linked stressors
Comprising over 300 habitable islands, of which about 70 are permanently occupied today, the Fiji Islands are located in the
Southwest Pacic Ocean (Fig. 1). Most of the nearly 900,000 people live on the two largest islands Viti Levu and Vanua Levu
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
although communities of largely iTaukei Fijians (the indigenous people of the Fiji Islands - predominantly Melanesian) occupy their
traditional lands on smaller oshore islands. Situated some 20 km west of Vanua Levu and 60 km north of Viti Levu, Yadua is one
such island. A Lapita study suggests that Yadua Island was rst occupied approximately 2600 years ago (Nunn et al., 2005). Yadua is
famed as a sanctuary (on oshore Yaduataba Island) for an endemic iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis)(Harlow and Biciloa, 2001). It has
a reputation as an extremely dry island, given its location within the rain shadow of Vanua Levu (Fig. 1). The only village on Yadua is
Denimanu, which has a population of some 170 people who rely almost exclusively on shing and farming to sustain themselves.
Revenue from the lucrative bêche-de-mer (sea cucumber) shery has recently been curtailed by government regulation following its
almost total depletion in the area (Lalavanua et al., 2017).
Owing to its tropical oceanic location, Fiji is susceptible to tropical cyclones (TCs), which generally occur annually but are often
more common and stronger during La Niña events (Chand and Walsh, 2011). Strong winds characterize such phenomena; Severe TC
Winston in February 2016 packed the strongest winds ever recorded in the southern hemisphere (Anonymous, 2016; Gard and
Veitayaki, 2017). Sea-level rise over the past few decades has inevitably amplied the eects of such tropical cyclones (Woodru
et al., 2013). Yet cyclone-induced storm surges, whose eects hinge primarily on coastal geometries, often have the more severe and
enduring impacts for coastal communities like that of Denimanu on Yadua Island.
Sea-level rise has long been regarded as the principal cause of the widespread shoreline (coastal) erosion which has been ex-
perienced along most soft-sediment (non-atoll) Pacic island coasts in recent decades (Barbier, 2015; Nunn, 1990). A 1998 study of
29 coastal villages on Viti Levu Island (Fiji) found that 27 had been experiencing shoreline erosion (Mimura and Nunn, 1998). A
similar study of Ovalau and Moturiki islands (Fiji) found that all but three of the 22 coastal settlements were experiencing shoreline
erosion, the exceptions being those that had deliberately not cut down their coastal mangrove forests (Nunn, 2000).
Given that Yadua is a moderately high volcanic island (200 m amsl), often with characteristically deep-weathered soils, and
typically only lightly vegetated (with grassland-savanna) in its higher parts, it is uncommonly susceptible to land instability, espe-
cially during torrential rain such as occurs during TCs. In addition, while many food gardens are located in lower parts of Yadua,
increasing population and the imperative of producing surpluses (especially as cyclone reserves) of key staples has led many farmers
in recent decades to open up inland and upland parts of the island for smallholder agriculture. This process has involved clearing
vegetation cover, usually by burning, a process that typically exposes more ground, than will be replanted, to instability (Wairiu,
3. Methods
Data such as precise topographic maps, historical records of climate and mean sea levels, land use pattern is a commodity that
is dicult to access in countries like Fiji. This meant that common methodologies could not be used; thus, other important resources
were needed, such as traditional knowledge, memories and experiences of the local people. Indigenous people have been living in the
same locations for generations and have observed environmental changes in real time; making them an eective source of in-
formation. Combining in-situ observations and traditional knowledge, an overall picture could be drawn of Yadua Islands vulner-
Fig. 1. Map of Yadua Island showing places mentioned in text; mangrove areas are in green. Inset shows the location of Yadua within the Fiji Islands
group; most Fijians live on Viti Levu Island where the major cities are located.
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
Yadu Island was chosen for its lack of scientic literature, for being one of just two communities that have relocated due to
climate-attributable causes in Fiji; and because of a report by other researchers, following their visit to Denimanu in January 2017,
stating that the community is aected by rising sea level, and had recently experienced extreme weather events. Denimanu was
perceived as a well-run community, not known for avariciousness, with clean water, a health centre and the presence of several older
residents willing to share their story.
Over a two-week period in September 2017, a survey of Yadua Island residents was conducted in order to determine their
perceptions about recent environmental changes and their views concerning the future. The basis of this survey was a 24-question
questionnaire, selected and handed out by turaga-ni-koro (village headman) to 15 representative members of the community; answers
to which were completed by the hereditary chief, several farmers and divers, the school principal, the nurse, the resident Methodist
pastor, and the turaga-ni-koro. The questionnaire explored such topics as ood damage, sea-level rise, and drought; cyclone frequency
and intensity; changes in temperature, precipitation; vegetation change and food availability (plants and animals, marine and ter-
restrial); the eects of environmental change on livelihoods; and their views of future livelihood sustainability. Paper questionnaires
were given out to all interviewees who lled them in at their leisure. Responses were supplemented by informal individual and group
discussions, generally fuelled by kava (yaqona) consumption that creates cultural contexts in rural Fiji settings, which are suitable for
information exchange (McNaught et al., 2014; Turner, 1992).
4. The 2017 survey: content, results and insights
In September 2017, the people of Yadua identied and communicated certain concerns, nding themselves bueted by the forces
of globalization, constrained in their commercial aspirations by geography (distance to markets) and by regulation, while increas-
ingly impacted by climate change. Three major aspects of climate-change impacts are identied as especially aecting the people of
Yadua tropical cyclones (rain, winds and storm surge), shoreline erosion, and landslides each of which is discussed separately
For this community, it was TC Evan in December 2012 that had the most enduring eects, washing away a large part of the
shoreline along the front of Denimanu and destroying two rows of houses in the process. Following this event, which displaced 19
families, the Government of Fiji developed an upslope site and built new houses for these families, each new house with its own water
tank and solar panel for basic energy needs (Fig. 2A, B). The new settlement (Korovou) is just 250 m away from the old one.
Shoreline erosion is noticeable along most coasts on Yadua Island and can be attributed to the slow-onset eects of recent sea-
level rise, periodically amplied during rapid-onset events such as storm surge and tsunami. Erosion of the shoreline at Denimanu has
been ongoing for several decades, often progressing more rapidly during storm-surge events. Elderly informants recalled when a row
of houses along the Denimanu shore front was abandoned in 20067 as a result of progressive erosion, although in 2004 there was
little sign of erosion (Fig. 3A). Two rows of houses were destroyed in a few hours during TC Evan in 2012 (see above). Today, the
eroding shoreline is only a few metres from the edge of another row of houses (Fig. 3B); the sea often oods part of the village during
high spring tides.
While numerous landslides were clearly visible on the steep slopes at the back of the pockets of coastal plain, along the edges of
Yadua, the most memorable was that which occurred in March 2017 and destroyed two of the buildings comprising the islands
primary school (Fig. 4A, B). Schoolchildren have since been instructed in tents (provided by UNICEF) within the main part of
All respondents recognized the eects of sea-level rise, believing that climate change more generally has aected their livelihoods
and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Clear majorities stated that climate change especially higher temperatures and
increased frequency/magnitudes of heavy-rain events had negatively aected the supply of marine and terrestrial foods in, what the
community regarded as, unprecedented ways. Most respondents noted temperature rise and considered that annual precipitation had
decreased, making Yadua hotter and drier than it once was. The latter observations are especially credible in communities like
Denimanu where most history is preserved and communicated orally.
Younger participants (< 40) noticed a decrease in plant production, whereas older participants saw a decrease. However, wild
animal numbers are said to have decreased according to younger respondents, while older ones think theyve increased. The young
preferred to plant mangrove, the old to build seawall. The vast majority of older participants were much more inclined to relocating
homes and crops than the younger respondents.
Interestingly, no consensus was found among respondents about whether plant/food production had increased (per unit area) or
decreased. And while almost all respondents averred that owering/fruiting seasons had changed, they were split almost evenly as to
the direction of this. A lack of readily-discernible change in tropical-cyclone and drought frequency was also reected in the split in
Yadua respondent answers. In contrast, a majority considered average cyclone intensity to have increased or remained the same.
In terms of responding to climate change, most participants stated they would eventually relocate their homes further inland, and
would consider planting mangroves along the Denimanu shore front to absorb wave energy. Clear majorities were contemplating the
eects of climate change (especially sea-level rise) on food supply, prompting them to consider relocating lowland crop production
further inland and planting crops that are more tolerant of saline groundwater and/or periodic wave over-wash.
Through wide-ranging dialogue with Denimanu residents, it became clear that there was an undercurrent of anxiety among key
decision-makers in the community about what the recent environmental changes (the shoreline erosion and the landslide) might
signify. While accepting that there were proximal causes (the storm surge and heavy rain respectively) for these events, much
discussion also focused on possible ultimate causes. In societies like those in rural Fiji, where almost everyone is spiritually engaged,
it is understandable that ultimate causes often concern deities and peoples behaviour towards them. In the case of Christian
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
Denimanu, the view that these environmental changes had been sent by Godto punish the people for the indierent nature of their
worship was one often aired, although there seemed to be no consensus. This is a contrast to other similar communities in the rural
Asia-Pacic where religious leaders in particular have been quick to seize on environmental impacts as evidence of a need for an
increase in piety and adherence to particular religious mores (Gerten and Bergmann, 2012; Chester and Duncan, 2008).
Such sentiments typically contrasted with more secular discussions, generally initiated by younger community members, about
the role of government and aid agencies in helping communities like Denimanu to cope with the aftermath of disaster. The view was
expressed, particularly by people with prolonged exposure to city life (in Fiji and elsewhere) that it was the job of governmentto
help (or facilitate help for) people in such situations. The view was expressed that Fiji was a poor countrythat should be helped by
other richer ones in times of crisis. The government initiative of building 19 houses at Korovou was generally lauded although some
community members bemoaned their perception that these houses were quickly built and the slope was inadequately drained.
As appears to be common after successive disasters have impacted the same community, the people of Denimanu, when ques-
tioned in 2017, considered themselves both fortunate and unfortunate. They were fortunate because they had received reasonably
prompt assistance from the Government of Fiji after the damage caused by TC Evan in 2012, assistance that had made the community
the envy of others. To date only two climate-attributable relocations have taken place in Fiji Vunidogoloa (Cakaudrove) in 2014 and
Denimanu (Bua) in 2016 (Charan et al., 2017; Tronquet, 2015). The tents provided by the Government for the temporary rehousing of
the primary school were considered a stop-gap measure and the community was eager for a new school to be built in a safer location.
Yet they were unfortunate because they felt that they had been singled out to be impacted by successive disasters (shoreline loss,
storm-surge, landslide) and felt anxious about whether they would continue to be so in the future.
5. Discussion
Using the example of a comparatively remote and resource-constrained community, this paper looked at how a typical island
society has been aected by and has responded to multiple climate-linked stressors. It seems likely that future climate change will
provide continued challenges for the Denimanu (Yadua Island) community. This community has strengths and weaknesses, the
Fig. 2. Photos of the newsettlement (Korovou) built in 2016 to rehouse residents of Denimanu that were displaced following storm-surge impacts
during Tropical Cyclone Evan in 2012. Photo A shows the entire settlement of Korovou stretching down the volcanic slope of the island. Photo B
shows three of the new houses, each with water tanks and solar panels. Photos by Patrick Nunn.
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
recognition of which could help inure them against future climate-change impacts. This section explains the likely nature of those
impacts, then lists the strengths and weaknesses before outlining a way forward.
Compared to the last 50 years, the average frequency of TCs is likely to decrease, but the average intensity is expected to increase
(and therefore be more damaging) (Albert et al., 2016; Antonellini et al., 2008; Brysse et al., 2013; Greenbaum et al., 1995; IPCC,
2014; Kumar et al., 2006; Nunn, 2007; Nunn, 2013; Walsh et al., 2016). Unfortunately, Yadua is located on the northwest side of the
Fiji archipelago from which most TCs approach, so it appears likely that the island will again be impacted, as it was during TC Evan,
at least every 510 years over the next few decades.
Sea level is highly likely to continue rising, its rate increasing, over the remainder of the 21st century and beyond. Lowland areas,
like the present coastal fringe of Denimanu, are likely to become less readily habitable as sea level rises, causing shoreline retreat and
increasingly-frequent lowland ooding in such places. It is likely that extreme wave-events (storm surges) will exacerbate the rate of
shoreline retreat in such places.
Comparably to TCs, heavy-rain events are likely to decrease in frequency but increase in intensity (Brown et al., 2017). This will
likely continue to contribute to land instability on Yadua. Complementary trends, like the clearing of grassland-savanna upslope for
the planting of new food gardens, are likely to amplify the exposure of such places to rain-associated land instability.
Ranged against such issues is the knowledge of the Yadua people about how the environment they occupy has changed and is
likely to change in the future. Their familiarity with the island makes them best placed to decide on the optimal adaptation options
for coping with likely future environmental changes. This familiarity includes practical knowledge about how to reduce shoreline
exposure (through mangrove planting, for example) and upland erosion/exposure (through maintaining vegetation coverage around
food gardens). It also includes historical knowledge, something that is less commonly discussed in such communities in the authors
experience. Yet historical knowledge about where people once lived and why, and why they moved from there to their present
villages is something that can be helpful in adapting to future climate change. For example, some communities that were located
formerly (pre-colonization) inland were moved involuntarily to the coast by colonial ocials for ease of access, even though their
historical locations were known as places where their exposure to short-onset environmental change was minimal; a well-docu-
mented example comes from Vanuatu (Siméoni and Ballu, 2012). On Yadua Island, rst occupied approximately 2600 years ago, the
inhabitants lived in coastal settlements until about 700 years ago when a sudden sea-level and climate change pushed them to
Fig. 3. The changing coast of Yadua Island. Photo A shows the shoreline at Denimanu in June 2004 when there were many houses on a grassy at
just behind the high-tide mark. Photo B shows the coast at Denimanu in September 2017 when most of the houses shown in A had been destroyed
and the coastal at reduced signicantly in size; the location of Korovou (see Fig. 2) is also shown. Photos by Patrick Nunn.
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
relocate upland. A few centuries later, along with the arrival of the British colonizers, the inhabitants resettled on the coast. In
addition, it has been suggested that historical knowledge held in such communities about the fact they moved location in the past is
itself useful as a way of initiating discussions about future relocation (Janif et al., 2016).
The gap between scientically-determined risk and perceived risk in Denimanu is similar to that of other SIDS. In the Caribbean
for example, recent studies showed that, like in Yadu, respondents felt powerless in the face of climate change, attributing blame and
control to governments and God respectively. Conversely, the Carribean participants did not see the immediacy of climate-change
and its threats, unlike the people of Denimanu (Baptiste, 2018; Baptiste and Thomas, 2018; Smith, 2018).
From an outsiders perspective, the weaknessesof such communities is often considered to lie in their lack of exposure to climate-
change science, the lack of an adequate community governance framework for driving optimal adaptation, and their privileging of
spiritual over secular beliefs, especially those relating to causation (Jones and Boyd, 2011; Kuruppu and Willie, 2015). The insiders
perspective may be quite dierent because it is contextualized within a non-western worldview, it is frequently overlooked and little
attempt made to engage with it: something likely to explain why so many climate-change adaptation initiatives over the past three
decades in the Pacic islands have failed (McNamara, 2013; Nunn et al., 2014).
Clearly there needs to be a genuine eort to develop partnerships for adaptation with communities such as that of Denimanu on
Yadua in order to produce strategies that are eective and likely to be sustained by the key players into the foreseeable future; good
examples of such a novel approach come from Solomon Islands, Tonga and Fiji (Dumaru, 2010; Nunn et al., forthcoming). The
theories and processes used to implement a community-based approach (CBA) involve participation in development, community-
based natural resource management, and community-based disaster risk management. The expected outcomes are a renewed focus on
community adaptive management of natural resources, increased awareness of climate change, and an increase in the communitys
access to resources from external organizations (Dumaru, 2010).
6. Conclusion
For communities like Denimanu on Yadua Island, that have experienced the eects of multiple climate-linked stressors within a
short period of time, there are three main points of interest and relevance to climate risk managers.
Fig. 4. The landslide that occurred behind Denimanu in March 2017 necessitating the abandonment of the islands primary school. Photo A shows
the view of the landslide from the sea (Photo by Piérick Martin). Photo B shows the upper part of the landslide with a school building on the right
(Photo by Patrick Nunn).
P.C.M. Martin et al. Climate Risk Management 21 (2018) 7–15
First, there is the likelihood that this situation represents one that will become increasingly common in (island) countries like Fiji
over the next decade or so as the pace/impact of climate change ratchets upwards. So, understanding how such communities ra-
tionalize the concatenation of disasterand how this aects their resilience to such events is important to understand, not least
because community coping ability is key to sustaining rural livelihoods in a changed climate.
Second, it is important to understand how communities like Denimanu see their responsibility for responding to the eects of
multiple stressors: what, for instance, they see as their own job to address and what they see as their governments responsibility,
even that of its external (donor) partners. In other words, to what degree do communities like Denimanu regard themselves as
normallyor abnormallyimpacted? In modern Denimanu, there is no consensus, yet an underlying age divide between older
residents who veer towards total self-suciency and younger ones who see the communitys ability to cope with successive disasters
as nite and therefore dependent on external assistance.
Third, there is the issue of a communitys capacity and willingness to act fundamentally in response to multiple stressors. In the
case of Denimanu, there has been a fundamental intervention (the relocation of 19 households) that has not only attracted the
attention of other rural coastal communities in this part of Fiji but, has also stimulated some discussion with the community about
what it might do next. While we have no data on this, it does appear that discussions within the Denimanu community might
reasonably progress over the next few years to ones that consider how it might take further fundamental action to increase its
resilience to climate change impacts. Such discussion might involve reoccupying past settlement sites (like Cukuvou or Vagairiki) or
others that aord a higher degree of protection than is possible at more-exposed sites like that of modern Denimanu. Such auton-
omous relocation is likely to be iterative and small-scales, at least at rst, but is likely to become an adaptive response that is more
common in the Pacic Islands region over the next few decades.
PM and PN are grateful to the people of Denimanu on Yadua Island for their hospitality and their cooperation with this research.
We are especially thankful to Atami Ravulo, Denimanu headman, and Niko Tokainavatu (Fiji Museum) for assistance over a two-week
period on Yadua in September 2017. PM received funding for this research from the Faculty of Science, Health, Education and
Engineering at the University of the Sunshine Coast. PNs participation was funded through the Australian Research Councils Linkage
Grant LP160100941.
Appendix A. Supplementary data
Supplementary data associated with this article can be found, in the online version, at
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... These include unusual south-easterly wind movement at the side of a darkish and cloudy sky, an increase in sea and river temperature, climb of ants in the walls carrying grain from earth to higher ground, coming sea birds in a group inland from deep-sea, and flying insects attaching themselves to domestic animals' body to save themselves from the surge water and wind. In Fiji Island, community people apply their local knowledge and experiences such as home and crops relocation, mangrove plantation and building a sea wall to protect themselves from the effect of the cyclone, floods, tides, tsunamis, and other natural disasters in the last three millennia (Martin et al. 2018). ...
... Besides, these seven articles focused on the continent of America (Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Florida, and Rhode Island). Out of seven articles, three articles focused on the adaptation practices of the coastal community in Canada (Lane et al. 2017;Camare and Lane 2015;Barron et al. 2012) and the other four focused on Mexico, Argentina, Florida, and Rhode Island (Small et al. 2016;Frazier et al. 2010;Hare et al. 2017 andKoerth et al. 2014) Finally, one article focused on Australian and Oceania countries (Martin et al. 2018) and one article focused on African (Musa 2016) adaptation practices of the coastal community. ...
... The Southwest Pacific Ocean community on the Fiji Island plants mangroves as well as a sea wall. On the other hand, the river erosion affected community in Bangladesh used to plant sedges like Cyperus along the river banks and use Sundri bushes for pilling in the coastal area in Bangladesh, and plants on the mound of soil in common practice in the In Niger delta (Martin et al. 2018;Musa 2016). The coastal community in Bangladesh uses water transport by canoes, bamboo, and banana rafts as well as conventional boats for travelling shorter distances; and steamer, and motorized boats for long-distance. ...
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Coastal communities are directly affected by climate change-induced disasters. Apart from all other disasters, tidal inundation is common in coastal areas. As a damaging phenomenon, it massively influences the socioeconomic sectors in the coastal community. The main objective of this qualitative investigation is to know the adaptation practices of the coastal community in response to climate change-induced tidal inundation. This study used the PRISMA statement (Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) method and selected 19 relevant publications. This systematic review identified four categories of adaptation practices that the coastal community practise in response to climate change-induced tidal inundation, e.g., traditional knowledge practices (three sub-categories), social and community practices (four sub-categories), mechanical practices (five sub-categories), and institutional responses (two sub-categories). Results will be useful to the coastal planners, policymakers, researchers and mass people.
... Much of the recent conversation has turned away from a focus on adaptation and is now centered around relocation for these vulnerable populations (Cooper, 2017). To this end, a number of communities from Pacific Island Countries (PICs), all of which are considered to be SIDS, such as Fiji (Barnett & McMichael, 2018;Martin et al., 2018), the Solomon Islands (Albert et al., 2018), and Papua New Guinea (Lipset, 2013), have undergone or are in the process of planned internal moves. With the majority of the population living in coastal areas and more than 50 percent of built infrastructure located within 500 m of the coast (Kumar & Taylor, 2015), Ferris (2015) suggests that millions may need to be relocated. ...
... The coastal village of Vunidogoloa (population 153) on Vanua Levu Island, dubbed as Fiji's first 'climate-induced' relocation, was entirely moved two kilometers inland in 2014 (Piggott-McKellar et al., 2019). The 170 inhabitants of Denimanu village, the sole community living on Yadua Island, were only partially relocated after a 2012 cyclone resulting in storm surges destroyed homes and eroded shoreline (ibid; Martin et al., 2018). Hutton and Haque (2004) study the effects of riverbank erosion in Bangladesh. ...
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The purpose of this article is to review the key contributions in the climate-migration literature and understand which environmental factors have been shown to robustly affect migration. We then discuss the findings on the channels through which climate affects migration. We find that there seems to be robust evidence that temperature affects migration, but the evidence for precipitation is inconclusive. Weather-related disasters affect migration, and it is important to investigate the effect of subcategories of disasters. In contrast to the existing survey papers, we highlight the question how climatic factors affect migration. Finally, we identify several open questions for the future.
... Several risk assessmentbased studies which are centred at the community level have been conducted in Fiji. For instance, population increase in a small indigenous (iTaukei) Fijian community, Yadua, initiated the expansion of settlement areas, which led to the clearing of vegetation , thus making the village prone to landslides during heavy precipitation events (Martin et al. 2018). Chandra and Gaganis (2015) indicated that vulnerability in the Nadi river basin is a result of nonclimatic pressures such as drainage, social change and unplanned development. ...
... With constant damage from disasters, farmers opt to diversify crops and tend not to focus solely on cash crops. However, drought in the region also affects subsistence-oriented farming (Gough et al. 2010;Martin et al. 2018;McNamara and Prasad 2014). Additionally, the market for agricultural farming in Fiji poses several challenges such as costly transport options and paucity of water infrastructure or machinery, which further limits options for other sources of income (Singh-Peterson and Iranacolaivalu 2018). ...
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Unique vulnerabilities are intrinsic to Pacific island countries which shape risk perception and influence adaptive decision making to natural hazards. This study aims to examine ongoing risks caused by hydro-meteorological hazards, with a focus on micro-level household response to increasing vulnerabilities, in addition to macro-level community related vulnerabilities. Data collection was undertaken through semi-structured interviews in three hydro-meteorological hazard-prone communities, dominated by members of the Indian diaspora, in the Western part of Fiji. The findings were analysed using descriptive, interpretive and inferential analysis. The findings reveal that climatic, physical, cultural and socio-economic factors render households more vulnerable at a micro-level. The research also revealed that members of the Indian community normally have lower levels of societal cohesion, have an inherent individualistic approach to disasters and lack access to communal assets such as land rendering them more vulnerable at a community level. As a coping mechanism, households were found to have a higher likelihood of adhering to social adaptive strategies such as making behavioural, informational, and educational changes for risk reduction. According to this study, participants show a high degree of risk perception with a sound understanding of storm surge, flood peaks and extents as well as prolonged dry spells. The study recommends avenues for combining scientific knowledge together with citizen science for better hazard risk analysis as future research. To ensure appropriate risk mitigation, governments should implement effective warning systems and undertake capacity building prior to disasters to initiate adequate response to forecast warnings.
... Overcoming a reluctance to undertake TA has been helped by providing livelihoods for people in the new location, as shown by the provision of fishponds for the community of Vunidogoloa (Fiji) that was relocated several kilometres inland (Piggott-McKellar et al. 2019a, 2019b. In addition, in many smaller-island contexts, it is possible to move communities to less-vulnerable locations yet still allow them to access familiar places for food acquisition; Fiji examples come from the relocated community on Yadua Island (Martin et al. 2018) that is just 500 m from its former location and that at Narikoso on Ono Island which has recently moved about 200 m upslope (Barnett and McMichael 2018). To optimize their chances of sustained success, relocation processes should include community consultation, guaranteeing free and informed consent of the relocated population (McAdam and Ferris 2015), something that should also apply to community adaptation per se in such situations (McNamara et al. 2020;Westoby et al. 2019). ...
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Many climate change responses focus on form rather than substance. As a result, they invariably look at the consequences but ignore the drivers of climate change. Since past approaches towards climate change adaptation have had limited success, the most effective and sustainable way to minimize future climate change impacts on humanity is through transformative adaptation (TA). This paper defines and characterizes the conceptual foundations of this term and outlines how TA influences current and future climate change adaptation challenges. This paper reviews the meaning and purpose of transformation in climate change adaptation and, by means of a set of case studies, explains how their commonalities can help define good TA practice. Deploying a range of situations, this study shows how this approach is being implemented in a set of countries, and considers its potential transformative impact, its benefits, and challenges. The results obtained have shown that when implemented with due care, TA can yield long-term benefits to local communities. The paper conclude by listing some measures by which TA may be further deployed as a means of helping communities to meet the future challenges posed by a changing climate.
... phenomena(Field et al. 2012). Consequently, more intense cyclone events and unpredictable seasonal weather patterns will continue to result in hydro-meteorological hazards affecting livelihoods, economies and the society at large(Martin et al. 2018;Pearce et al. 2018). Under a climate change scenario, the projected cost of damages in future flooding for households in the Ba catchment (shown as Rarawai inFig. ...
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Compared with larger nations, small island developing states (SIDS) are disproportionately affected by natural disasters relative to size and frequency. Social, environmental and economic complexities are integral in making SIDS more vulnerable to such catastrophes. Floods and droughts have drastic impacts on societies; however, few studies have been performed in the Pacific region to reduce risks. Drought indices are useful to understand vulnerabilities and can be used to improve knowledge of spatial and temporal distribution of drought and floods, thereby improving preparedness. For this research, the following drought indices were tested for the Fiji region: Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI), Standardised Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), Effective Drought Index (EDI) and self�calibrated Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). Because of the importance of agriculture in Fiji, the performance of each index was verified using two plant productivity indices: Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) and Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). It was concluded that the EDI is the best-performing index and precipitation is a suitable parameter which can be used in monitoring hydrological extremes in island states such as Fiji. Further, a meta-analysis was carried out, and it was concluded that wavelet-transformed artificial neural networks (WANNs) have the best performance to forecast drought indices. Therefore, we employed an artificial neural network (ANN) as well as a WANN model to forecast the EDI using climate indices. The models showed promising results in predicting EDI; however, both the models showed average performance in predicting extreme events. Instances of over-prediction and under-prediction were noted for both the models from the categorical verification. We also used multivariate statistical techniques to carry out spatial drought modelling. The results were not better than those of the neural networks; however, multivariate techniques have added advantages such as identifying relationships between response and explanatory variables, which can be used with other modelling techniques. In conclusion, neural networks can be used to implement an operational hydrological extreme monitoring system in Fiji. Further testing and optimisation to better predict extreme events will be useful for informing the public; this area warrants future investigation.
... 'Soft' community-based adaptation has been encouraged to reduce power imbalances between top-down aid donors and beneficiary communities. In Yadua Island, Fiji, community-based management approaches are encouraged to reduce community reliance on the government implemented disaster risk reduction (Martin et al., 2018). ...
The importance of the role of governance in reducing disaster risk has international recognition from the United Nations’ Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The decentralisation of decision-making has been proposed by scholars as a practice to improve disaster outcomes. However, there is very little research that examines the role of decentralised disaster governance in household disaster experiences. Much of the current disaster experience research tends to use aggregate trend data of numbers of people affected, fatalities and economic loss that reveal high-level changes over time, but provide very little sense of the outcomes for different types of affected households. Studies that focus on household-scale outcomes tend to be one-off studies that do not provide longitudinal evidence of changing household experiences over time. This study fills a gap by researching the historical associations between disaster governance and the lived experiences of households over three decades of disasters. The research problem is studied through the case study of Samoa, a typical small island developing state. Small island developing states are relevant case studies as they are often physically small and remote, low lying, and resource poor – all of which can affect disaster outcomes. By taking a political ecology approach, the study reveals how power dynamics within communities interact with formal governance systems. Despite differences between disaster outcomes experienced by all households, this research identified three ‘types’ of households, based predominantly on their primary income source, which had similar experiences. Households with access to formal income and those receiving remittances had improved disaster outcomes between 1990 and 2018. However, subsistence households experienced few improvements in disaster outcomes over this period, continuing to struggle to access income and food after cyclones disrupted their agricultural source of income. The research finds that while formal decentralised governance arrangements are important at the local scale to support collective action and local scale relief distribution, decentralisation of responsibility often occurs without the complete decentralisation of power and resources. Despite noteworthy reforms in Samoa, the current formal disaster governance arrangements have not improved the disaster outcomes for the most marginalised households. Households with low-income and low social status struggle to access both resources and access to decision-making within villages. For higher-income and more powerful households, improved disaster outcomes are more closely associated with increased national scale economic development as opposed to governance reforms. I conclude that for governance to improve outcomes, formal decentralisation of responsibility for disaster preparedness, response and recovery may need a concurrent decentralisation of power and resources. However, decentralising power and resources can also be problematic, leading to the concentration of power and resource capture by local elites. The thesis makes recommendations to improve disaster outcomes of all household groups, not just those that are already best placed to recover from disasters.
... Since 1992, the ocean around Fiji has been rising at about 5.5 mm/year, almost twice the global average (Martin et al. 2018). Further, the Pacific region experiences severe tropical cyclones, which will increase in severity with warming oceanic and atmospheric temperatures and exacerbate impacts associated with SLR such as coastal erosion, flooding, and saltwater intrusion. ...
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The relocation and retreat of low-lying coastal communities are expected to increase in anticipation of, and response to, sea-level rise and subsequent coastal hazard risks. As such, there is burgeoning attention in research and policy surrounding relocation that is managed and supported through external sources. Yet there exists limited research into the ways Indigenous communities are autonomously retreating from emerging coastal hazard risk, despite long histories of mobility and inherent adaptive capacities. We contribute to this gap through qualitative data derived from two low-lying coastal iTaukei (Indigenous Fijian) communities that are exposed to coastal erosion, storm surges, and flooding events, alongside other socioeconomic pressures. We explore the approach of “generational retreat” which is emerging as a long-term relocation strategy employed by village residents. Generational retreat is a form of mobility whereby households, namely, younger generations, incrementally retreat in response to existing, emerging, and anticipated coastal changes while maintaining connections to place and village life. We show how communities are drawing on local processes and resources to direct autonomous adaptation pathways which are suited to local sociopolitical, cultural, and environmental contexts. We further explore opportunities for governments and external actors in supporting these locally conceived and driven forms of retreat as an adaptive and sustainable response to coastal change.
Small island states are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, despite not contributing much to global greenhouse gas emissions. Crafting effective science-based adaptive strategies to conserve and sustain natural resources in the face of the changing climate has important socio-economic, political, and ecological dimensions. The analysis in the current paper reveals that the island of Mauritius has been warming at a rate of 0.0216 °C/year over the period 1971–2020, with an increase in precipitation averaging 2.29 mm/year over the 1981–2020 period. The changing climate over time has had severe repercussions on the native ecosystems of the island and is threatening the long-term freshwater supply system. Science-based policy measures proposed revolve around the expansion and re-design of protected areas to be strategically located in climate-resilient regions that seek to offer refuge to native fauna and flora. To increase the resilience on freshwater supply on the island, measures proposed include the introduction of a freshwater coordination-based system that operates on water stress level, in addition to increasing the network of freshwater catchment areas in regions where precipitation is increasing over time. The insights in this paper are expected to be valuable for other small islands in adapting to climate change.
Political ecology has been widely applied to analyse processes of agricultural development, most notably where there are complex relationships between ecological, political and economic factors. Political ecology explores how the impacts of environmental change are felt unequally by economies and societies. Small island developing states, which often produce low levels of greenhouse gas emissions, yet are on the frontline of climate change impacts, demonstrate the unequal nature of the impact of environmental change. The unique vulnerabilities of small island developing states have been documented in numerous international environmental agreements. However, there is an absence of both political ecology in island studies and islands in political ecology. Here we make the case for adopting a political ecology approach when studying adaptations to environmental and climate change in small island developing states. We focus on several universal themes prevalent in islands research, notably: sovereignty, migration, disaster risk reduction and natural resource management trade-offs. This chapter also explores what political ecology can bring to the subject of climate and development in small islands, and concludes that a political ecology approach to sustainable development in small islands can support a reconceptualisation of the challenges faced, as well as reshape perceptions of adaptive capacity, and opportunities for future adaptation.
Rising sea levels and associated coastal hazards will lead to the relocation of some communities away from sites of high exposure. In Fiji, several communities have already initiated relocation, with hundreds more considered in need of future relocation by the Fijian government. Yet, often relocation is viewed as an inevitable response to coastal exposure, whereby an entire community is relocated from one location (of high exposure) to another (of lesser exposure) with the assistance of an external actor, namely the State and donors. Limited research has drawn attention to the heterogenous nature of relocation (and immobility responses), and the factors that shape these diverse processes. Drawing on fieldwork undertaken across seven low-lying communities in Fiji that are facing exposure to coastal erosion, tidal inundation, and storm surges, we highlight different immobility and relocation responses that are being implemented both within and across villages. These responses can be viewed along a continuum, referred to here as the immobility-relocation continuum, and include: voluntary immobility, immobility due to restricted relocation options, incremental relocation, partial relocation, and full community relocation. We identify factors - climatic and environmental, past and current adaptations and mobilities, socio-cultural, land rights and tenure, and institutional – that shape these varied responses. This research underscores the need to expand our thinking regarding how climate-related relocation is conceptualized and implemented in policy and practice toward a nuanced understanding of (im)mobility as a form of adaptation to coastal hazard risks, accounting for diversity in local conditions, preferences, and resources available to communities.
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Since the Eighth International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones (IWTC-8), held in December 2014, progress has been made in our understanding of the relationship between tropical cyclone (TC) characteristics, climate and climate change. New analysis of observations has revealed trends in the latitude of maximum TC intensity and in TC translation speed. Climate models are demonstrating an increasing ability to simulate the observed TC climatology and its regional variations. The limited representation of air-sea interaction processes in most climate simulations of TCs remains an issue. Consensus projections of future TC behavior continue to indicate decreases in TC numbers, increases in their maximum intensities and increases in TC-related rainfall. Future sea level rise will exacerbate the impact of storm surge on coastal regions, assuming all other factors equal. Studies have also begun to estimate the effect on TCs of the climate change that has occurred to date. Recommendations are made regarding future research directions. Keywords: tropical cyclone, climate change, climate variability
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Whilst future air temperature thresholds have become the centrepiece of international climate negotiations, even the most ambitious target of 1.5 °C will result in significant sea-level rise and associated impacts on human populations globally. Of additional concern in Arctic regions is declining sea ice and warming permafrost which can increasingly expose coastal areas to erosion particularly through exposure to wave action due to storm activity. Regional variability over the past two decades provides insight into the coastal and human responses to anticipated future rates of sea-level rise under 1.5 °C scenarios. Exceeding 1.5 °C will generate sea-level rise scenarios beyond that currently experienced and substantially increase the proportion of the global population impacted. Despite these dire challenges, there has been limited analysis of how, where and why communities will relocate inland in response. Here, we present case studies of local responses to coastal erosion driven by sea-level rise and warming in remote indigenous communities of the Solomon Islands and Alaska, USA, respectively. In both the Solomon Islands and the USA, there is no national government agency that has the organisational and technical capacity and resources to facilitate a community-wide relocation. In the Solomon Islands, communities have been able to draw on flexible land tenure regimes to rapidly adapt to coastal erosion through relocations. These relocations have led to ad hoc fragmentation of communities into smaller hamlets. Government-supported relocation initiatives in both countries have been less successful in the short term due to limitations of land tenure, lacking relocation governance framework, financial support and complex planning processes. These experiences from the Solomon Islands and USA demonstrate the urgent need to create a relocation governance framework that protects people’s human rights.
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Increasingly unremitting weather patterns and rising sea levels have obligated Fiji to become one of the first countries in the South Pacific to relocate communities due to climate change. The customary lands reflect the traditional and communal structure of the indigenous Fijians and parting from it as a consequence of forced relocation is a delicate and vulnerable issue that establishes some of the negative effects of population displacement. Relocation to a new land signifies separation from uniquely adapted traditions that took thousands of years to form. This paper highlights the experiences of the people of Vunidogoloa village, in light of the interviews and discussions carried out at the village and interviews conducted with the relevant government officials. In addressing this objective the paper analyses the main constraints of resettlement, the land-people bond, governance, and funding. The paper concludes by providing recommendations essential for communities in the South Pacific and in the other parts of the world that face or will face similar challenge.
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Purpose Climate change poses diverse, often fundamental, challenges to livelihoods of island peoples. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that these challenges must be better understood before effective and sustainable adaptation is possible. Design/methodology/approach Understanding past livelihood impacts from climate change can help design and operationalize future interventions. In addition, globalization has had uneven effects on island countries/jurisdictions, producing situations especially in archipelagoes where there are significant differences between core and peripheral communities. This approach overcomes the problems that have characterized many recent interventions for climate-change adaptation in island contexts which have resulted in uneven and at best only marginal livelihood improvements in preparedness for future climate change. Findings Island contexts have a range of unique vulnerability and resilience characteristics that help explain recent and proposed responses to climate change. These include the sensitivity of coastal fringes to climate-environmental changes: and in island societies, the comparatively high degrees of social coherence, closeness to nature and spirituality that are uncommon in western contexts. Research limitations/implications Enhanced understanding of island environmental and social contexts, as well as insights from past climate impacts and peripherality, all contribute to more effective and sustainable future interventions for adaptation. Originality/value The need for more effective and sustainable adaptation in island contexts is becoming ever more exigent as the pace of twenty-first-century climate change increases.
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Land degradation in many Pacific Island Countries (PICs) has become an emerging concern in recent years. The causes of land degradation in PICs include: deforestation, inappropriate agricultural practices, overgrazing, mining, population pressure, land tenure issues and changing climate. Deforestation and inappropriate agricultural practices especially on sloping lands often lead to soil erosion, a key process leading to land degradation. On-site effects of accelerated soil erosion include decline in soil physical properties, loss of soil organic carbon and loss of plant nutrients and subsequently low crop productivity. This threatens the environment and food security for the growing population in PICs. The PICs are embarking on sustainable land management practices to address land degradation and safeguard the resource for their future generation. However, limited resources, lack of capacity and awareness on land degradation amongst the population are serious obstacles to implementation of sustainable land use plans and management.
When tropical cyclone Winston hit Fiji on 20 February 2016, it became the strongest storm recorded in the southern hemisphere and the second strongest storm ever recorded in the world. Forty-four people died as a result of the superstorm, and the ongoing governmental recovery plans have estimated nearly three billion Fijian dollars (£1.1 billion) in damages. Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, in a national address following Winston, stated ‘almost no part of our nation has been left unscarred’. This paper explores the adaptation measures for extreme weather and climate change in Fiji following Winston, as well as the author’s experiences both as a survivor of Winston and as a volunteer aid-relief worker living in Suva, the Fijian capital, at the time of the superstorm. Notably, Winston struck 5 days after Fiji became the first nation to ratify the United Nations Climate deal agreed to by 195 nations in Paris in December 2015. Many Pacific island nations have played a vital role in leading the global dialogue on climate change. In the lead up to the Paris summit, Prime Minister Bainimarama, stressed that ‘unless the world acts decisively in the coming weeks to begin addressing the greatest challenge of our age, then the Pacific, as we know it, is doomed.’ This is undoubtedly true and a global response is desperately needed, but equally true is the importance for such a reaction to be a cultural and faith-integrated process across multiple scales, ranging from village and community to regional, in scope. One critical aspect of extreme weather and climate change response in the Pacific is migration. However, the impacts of migration include organizing, adaptation and urban poverty, a further source of vulnerability. Consequently, human mobility in response to extreme weather and climate change is far more complex than originally addressed and is deserving of deeper consideration.
The characteristics of a reef-top boulder field created by a local submarine landslide tsunami are presented for the first time. Our examination of large reef-derived boulders deposited by the 1953 tsunami near Suva City, Fiji, revealed that shorter-than-normal-period tsunami waves generated by submarine landslides can create a boulder field resembling a storm boulder field due to relatively short boulder transport distances. The boulder-inferred 1953 tsunami flow velocity is estimated at over 9ms⁻¹ at the reef edge. Subsequent events, for example Cyclone Kina (1993), appear to have remobilised some large boulders. While prior research has demonstrated headward retreat of Suva Canyon in response to the repeated occurrence of earthquakes over the past few millennia, our results highlight the lingering vulnerability of the Fijian coastlines to high-energy waves generated both in the presence (tsunami) and absence (storm) of submarine failures and/or earthquakes. To explain the age discrepancies of U-Th dated coral comprising the deposited boulders, we introduce a conceptual model showing the role of repeated episodes of tsunamigenic submarine landslides in removing reef front sections through collapse. Subsequent high-energy wave events transport boulders from exposed older sections of the reef front onto the reef where they are deposited as 'new' boulders, alongside freshly detached sections of the living reef. In similar situations where anachronistic deposits complicate the deposition signal, age-dating of the coral boulders should not be used as a proxy for determining the timing of the submarine landslides or the tsunamis that generated them.
Social and cognitive psychology has shown that people’s intuition and emotion may exert great influence on their decision-making. However, within the context of climate change, there is paucity of literature in the developing countries including the Caribbean as many of these studies have been focused mostly in developed countries. This paper provides some ground-breaking work on human behaviour as it relates to perception and response to risks associated with climate change and climatic variability in the rural communities of Sandy Bay, Owia and Fancy, three remote communities in northeastern St. Vincent which are also home to the indigenous Caribs. A mixed methods approach which include a total of 311 questionnaires, interviews and focus groups discussion was undertaken. The study looked at how households perceived their own risk in terms of their location and how it influences their behaviour. It further examines households’ knowledge and perception of the climate change phenomenon and their responses to climate-related events. The results show that while majority of respondents did not feel they were located in risky areas, a noteworthy percentage did. Statistical significant relationships were observed when the data was compared across communities, sex and ownership of homes. For example, females and persons living in family homes generally felt more at risk. The results also show that respondents knew little of climate change and how it may exacerbate climate-related events such as drought and hurricane. Still, they were conscious of their local context and reported a change in the climate of which increased temperature was a strong predictor. An investigation of responses or the decision to respond to some of the impacts that they have experienced on account of climate change and climatic variability however led to the development of different types of perceptions which include religious, ill informed, experienced-based and knowledge-based perceptions. It is argued here that these forms of perception may result in non-adaptive, proactive or reactive adaptive behaviour. The research findings lead to the emergence of a number of recommendations which include public awareness, education and training on the risk and impacts of climate change and climate-related events on both the national and local level, improving public access to vital climate-related information and other resources and incorporating risk perceptions, knowledge, attitudes and livelihood strategies in the development of their policy, strategies and programmes to mitigate the impact of climate-related events. It also calls for the expansion of future research on risk perception within Caribbean communities.
The Caribbean, as a collection of Small Island Developing States, has been a hotspot for climate change research. Many studies have examined the consequences of climate change. However, few studies have examined the ways in which marginalized groups in the Caribbean view climate change. What are the levels of knowledge, concerns, and behavioral practices among marginalized groups in the Caribbean? This paper begins to explore this question using Caribbean fishers as a case study. The survey study of 241 fishers is done in one of the largest fish-landing sites in Jamaica. Fishers are asked about levels of knowledge about causes of climate change, concerns and the consequences, and actual adaptation behaviors. Using descriptive and inferential statistical tests, the paper explores the actual levels of knowledge, concerns, and specific strategies used to adapt. However, its goes further by examining the factors that drive the aforementioned variables. This study begins to not only contribute to the environmental psychological literature on the Caribbean, but it also helps to better understand ways in which marginalized communities might be assisted in the adaptation to climate change.