Toda presenters attend Pacific Resliience Meeting
At the beginning of May, Volker Boege, the Toda Peace Institute’s Senior Research Fellow working on climate change, peace and conflict in the Pacific, travelled to Suva, Fiji, for the first ‘Pacific Resilience Meeting’ (PRM). This conference was organized by the Pacific Resilience Partnership (PRP), the umbrella implementation mechanism for the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP). The theme of this inaugural PRM was ‘Youth Futures in a Resilient Pacific’. From 1-3 May, more than 300 practitioners, policy-makers and academics from around the Pacific and overseas met at the Suva campus of the University of the South Pacific to discuss the experiences and the lessons learned in implementing the FRDP, explore options for collaboration and identify avenues for more focused resilience action in the interest of the countries and people(s) of the region. The European Union’s ‘Global Climate Change Alliance Plus Initiative’ (GCCA+) was a co-organiser of the PRM, responsible for several of its sessions.
GCCA+ had invited Volker to present in a session titled ‘The Climate Security Nexus in the Pacific’. Volker talked about ‘Climate Change and Conflict in Oceania’. Other presenters in the session were Jane Neilson from the New Zealand Ministry of Defence and Upolu Luma Vaai, the Principal of the Pacific Theological College in Suva. Jane and Upolu are both members of Toda’s network of experts which emerged from last year’s workshop in Auckland on climate change and conflict in Oceania. Jane gave a presentation on ‘New Zealand Defence Assessment on Climate Change: The importance of culture and collaboration in mitigating security concerns’, and Upolu on ‘Oceanic Spirituality, Eco-relational Consciousness, and Climate Security’. The three presentations approached the issue of climate change, conflict, peace and security from different, but complementary perspectives. This was highly appreciated by the 60-plus participants of the session, as demonstrated by the lively discussion that followed the presentations and the positive feedback received by the organisers after the session. The problem of climate change induced migration and (potential for) violent conflict figured prominently in the session’s debate.
The session put ‘climate change and conflict/security’ on the agenda of GCCA+ and PRP, and it can be expected that this issue will be pursued further in the future. The session was also an opportunity to present the ‘Toda Oceania Declaration on Climate Change, Conflict and Peace’ to a broad variety of stakeholders working on climate change, adaptation and resilience in the Pacific. The session’s discussions are reflected in the PRM Outcomes Statement which reaffirmed the “need for urgent action at all levels to (….) respond to the social, economic, environmental and security impacts of climate change”, and which urged “the engagement of all partners in addressing issues of climate-driven and disaster-induced displacement and planned relocation, drawing on an improved understanding of diverse community needs, experiences, knowledge, capacity and perspectives”.