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October 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Fiji’s resilience to climate change requires the involvement and co-operation of all communities to prioritise the environment in their approach to development, says Tui Macuata, Ratu Aisea Katonivere.

Such “holistic planning,” he said, “should no longer be optional; it is a must” at every level of decision-making.

He made the comments while opening Fiji’s first national climate change summit at the Labasa Civic Centre yesterday.

The three-day summit has adopted ‘Building Resilience to Climate Change’ as its theme and aims to “strengthen resilience by developing a forum for information, and knowledge-sharing as a means of addressing gaps, fostering partnerships and promoting local climate-smart solutions.”

The summit’s 193 participants include resource owners, researchers, project managers, academics, and representatives from civil society organisations, government and the media.

Ratu Katonivere commended the co-operation among stakeholders at the summit.

He said such partnerships and sharing of knowledge were vital to preserving the country's natural resources.

He used Fiji’s Great Sea Reef, or Cakaulevu, as an example.

The 200km-long barrier reef, which is the world’s third largest reef system, provides the fishing grounds to 12 districts in Vanua Levu.

 “The responsible way and most effective way to afford this protection is to engage those stakeholders gaining financially, socially and culturally from this system to monitor sustainable use of this living asset and to finance its management."

He added that another essential component to resilience-building was the need to instil the right attitude toward climate change adaptation.

We must “accept that it’s the only way to achieve our goal,” he said.

 “Simple acts such as using the right energy light bulbs, closing the running tap, making sustainable seafood choices, using sustainable agricultural practices, and choosing local products will begin to create a network of a nation that recognises the importance of responding to adapting to climate change.”

The summit is spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which houses Fiji’s Climate Change Unit and is supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature South Pacific, GIZ, the University of the South Pacific’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (USP PACE-SD), the Department of Environment, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Primary Industries.

 By Vilisite Tamani of Wansolwara

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