The namele mechanism: a methodological tool to assist climate adaptation
In the context of the escalating imperative of responding to the impacts of global warming, there is a need for enforcement and methodological mechanisms that bridge the gaps between legislation, principles, conventions, protocols and their ‘on-ground’ application. A new tool in environmental law for such a purpose is proposed in this paper, named the ‘namele mechanism’, and is developed to guide processes of adaptive co-management. This methodological mechanism has been built on platforms of traditional local knowledge and practices of first peoples and local communities, particularly those from Vanuatu and the South Pacific, where systems of traditional customary law are still being practised. Much thought underpinning its development was founded on the empirical data captured in 58 in-depth interviews with chiefs, community leaders, government representatives and legal scholars. The namele mechanism recognises the effectiveness of contemporary management practices that are informed by science and technology, as well as customary law and historic practices that may have been in situ for tens of thousands of years. The introduction of such a mechanism is supported by existing protocols and instruments such as the Nagoya Protocol and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The rationale behind its approach promises to strengthen and innovate optimal environmental management approaches that are bespoke for specific places and communities. Such a mechanism will assist with the delivery of Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goals 13, 14 and 15. Through a ‘bottom-up’ approach that focuses on the involvement of local communities in the protection of their local ecosystems, the namele mechanism will provide an important step towards the empowerment of first peoples and local communities as they adapt to changing environmental conditions imposed by global warming.