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By Timoci Vula in Suva

The University of Canterbury and the University of the South Pacific are partnering in a unique research project that will explore the impact of climate change in the Pacific, and the role indigenous ecological knowledge can play to help communities to adapt.

A statement from the USP said the project would address a lack of research into community resilience and response mechanisms, and how indigenous knowledge could work with Western scientific approaches to inform a range of responses — from government policies to community plans.

It stated the research would support Pacific academics and take a Pasifika approach to research, including talanoa and culturally relevant methodologies.

It would also capture indigenous approaches and local responses to changes in climate being experienced.

In the statement, University of Canterbury team leader Professor Steven Ratuva said the “trans-disciplinary innovation is needed to explore the multi-layered impacts of the climate crisis on the environment and people in the Pacific and beyond”.

“The project is a unique opportunity to weave science, social science, humanities and indigenous ecological knowledge in creative and transformative ways,” said Professor Ratuva, who is director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies.

USP’s professor of Ocean and Climate Change and director of the Pacific Centre of Environment (PaCE-SD), Dr Elisabeth Holland, said the project responded to increasingly urgent calls from Pacific leaders and peoples to address the climate crisis.

‘First of its kind’
“It is truly a first of its kind of synthesis of research on both climate change and the ocean in the Pacific,” she said.

“This ‘by the Pacific for the Pacific’ project provides the opportunity to amplify community voices in the ongoing national and international discussions.”

According to the statement, the research will contribute to the global understanding of climate change in the Pacific region, contributing to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Global Stocktake in 2023.

It will also provide valuable information to Pacific governments and civil society groups and Pasifika peoples.

It will highlight Pacific solutions to Pacific experiences, sharing these experiences across the region and the world.

The project is funded by the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Timoci Vula is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.

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