Mitigation & Adaptation Planning for Fiji
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 00:00

The SPC/GTZ Pacific-German Regional Programme on Adaptation to Climate Change held its national planning workshop for the Fiji component from 19-21 May 2009. The SPC/GTZ Pacific-German Regional Programme on Adaptation to Climate Change has a 4-year duration starting January 2009, with a German contribution of up to 4.2 million Euros. The main national implementing partners in Fiji are the Department of Environment and the Ministry of Primary Industries. This SPC/GTZ Project is the first climate change-specific project for SPC LRD.

The Fiji planning workshop rounds off a series of national-level Project Planning Workshops undertaken by the Programme for its three regional countries, Vanuatu and Tonga being the other two.

The national workshop saw stakeholders coming together to identify appropriate steps and collaborative actions needed for the 4-year Project. Participants came from the government departments, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, landowner representatives and regional agencies. In officially opening the workshop, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment Mr Ram Chandar commended the successful collaboration between the Government of Fiji and the SPC/GTZ. He expressed his anticipation in continuing with this fruitful collaboration. The Federal Republic of Germany, through the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), has actively supported Fiji in the forestry sector for more than 20 years.


Presentations from the Environment, Forestry, and Agriculture sector reveal that climate change has truly arrived in Fiji. Data show that annual rainfall extremes in Fiji have increased in recent decades in both frequency and magnitude. In January this year, Fiji experienced its worst flood ever. The flooding resulted in an estimated loss of more than F$100million (approx. 34mil EUR) and the loss of eleven lives. The agriculture and infrastructure sector were the worst hit.

 

This had considerable implications for the economy as agriculture is the mainstay for the country. In Fiji, the vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by poor land use practices, largely driven by the agrarian-based economy. Most of the major towns in Fiji developed on river deltas and estuaries exposing them to intense climatic conditions and further aggravated by the destructive land use activities occurring upstream. Poor land use under the current climatic environment is of high concern given the young volcanic island landscape where soils are highly erodible and arable land limited.

The agriculture and forestry sector highlighted the need for more reliable climate change projections to better determine impacts of climate change on agriculture production and forestry systems. There is a need for more intensive research to identify and promote resilient food crops, especially amongst traditional crop varieties. There is a need to monitor responses in forest and forest ecosystems with the onset of climate change.

The Fiji workshop also revealed the need to establish policy frameworks and institutional structures to effectively respond to the concerns brought in by climate change. The Department of Environment is currently working towards a Climate Change Policy and have established a climate change unit with a designated climate change officer. The Project will aim to support Fiji and its member countries in strengthening climate change components in the sectors policies and in the development of climate change policy frameworks and plans such as a national adaptation strategy.

The Project will also support Fiji in wide awareness-raising activities, from the community level to the political level, and contribute to the fulfilment of it national communications to the UNFCCC.

A major Project component for Fiji is the development of international carbon market instruments for REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation). The Project will support Fiji in identifying an appropriate and feasible carbon market instrument for REDD projects. In the recent United Nations Forum of Forests (UNFF-8) meeting in New York, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community emphasised the development of a REDD mechanism within the context of sustainable forest management regime stating “We want to reiterate the region’s vulnerability to impacts of climate change and that we welcome the ongoing work at UNFCCC and other fora to address the issue including the consideration of REDD as an important mitigation mechanism in developing countries. However, we need to recognise that it should not be seen as an alternative to SFM but rather a component of it.”

The main areas of focus with regards to developing a carbon financing instrument for REDD in Fiji are:

  1. The development of a resource database following international standards. This will include a national carbon inventory of forest resources, including non-timber plants, and capacity development of technical staff

  2. A national scoping exercise and the development of a REDD strategic framework and policy to set standards and guidelines for REDD projects

  3. The development of a detailed national operational plan on the implementation of a viable REDD mechanism

  4. The implementation of REDD projects at project level (pilot sites)

The workshop recommended the establishment of a REDD unit to guide and provide support for future REDD and forest carbon trading initiatives. This unit will be integrated into the carbon trading technical team structure, which is chaired by the Director of the Department of Environment.

The active participation of local communities and resource owners, regular inter-sectoral consultation, and systematic capacity development from operational to policy level, from technical competence to effective policy structures underpins the operation of the Project.