Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp 1313–1324 | Cite as

Development, global change and traditional food security in Pacific Island countries

  • John Richard CampbellEmail author
Original Article


While islands have been identified in numerous discourses as being highly vulnerable, food security was a cornerstone of many traditional Pacific Island societies from inland and coastal communities in large islands with considerable natural assets to those that occupied extremely small, low-lying atolls with little or no soil and limited water resources. This was sustained through agro-ecological biodiversity, the production of surpluses which enabled food preservation and storage to be practiced and underpinned networks of exchange and mutual support that were particularly important during times of hardship such as disruptive extreme natural events, the use of resilient crops and using ‘famine’ foods. Colonisation, the introduction of new religions, the spread of capitalism, most recently in the context of globalisation, has seen many of these practices decline (some have disappeared altogether) as crop diversity has been reduced (making way for export products such as copra), food storage and preservation are now rarely practised, resilient crops have been replaced, famine foods have lost their importance in the face of disaster relief, and many traditional networks have declined. Food imports have become critical, not only in the growing urban areas, but also in rural communities. The paper concludes by addressing key challenges facing Pacific Island countries in order to revitalise those traditional elements of food security in ways that are likely to find acceptance in contemporary society and enable them to adapt to the effects of climate change.


Pacific Islands Food security Climate change Transnational networks Disasters 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geography ProgrammeUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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