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Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 221–235 | Cite as

Beyond the core: community governance for climate-change adaptation in peripheral parts of Pacific Island Countries

  • Patrick D. NunnEmail author
  • William Aalbersberg
  • Shalini Lata
  • Marion Gwilliam
Original Article

Abstract

Pacific Island Countries are highly exposed to climate change. Most impact studies have focused on the most densely populated core areas where top-down governance is most effective. In contrast, this research looks at peripheral (rural/outer-island) communities where long-established systems of environmental governance exist that contrast markedly with those which governments and their donor partners in this region favour. Peripheral communities in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, and Vanuatu were studied. Traditional systems of environmental governance are described, and three common barriers to effective and sustainable climate-change adaptation identified. The first is lack of awareness among key community decision makers about climate change and associated environmental sustainability that could be lessened by targeted awareness raising. The second is the inappropriateness of traditional decision-making structures for dealing with both the complexity and pace of climate-driven environmental changes. The third is the short-term views of resource management and sustainability held by many community decision makers. Despite 30 years of assistance, there has been negligible effective and sustainable adaptation for climate change in peripheral parts of Pacific Island Countries, something that is explicable by both the ineffectiveness of top-down approaches in such places as well as a lack of attention to the nature and the context of adaptation communications. It is timely for interventions to be made at community level where the greatest disconnect lies between the science and stakeholder awareness of climate change.

Keywords

Climate change Pacific islands Community governance Adaptation Sustainability Peripheral areas 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The study on which this work is based was funded by the Asia–Pacific Network for Global Change (APN) through CAPaBLE grant CBA2007-03NSY. Interviews in the Cook Islands were carried out by Miimetua Manuela and Nimerota Jim Brown, in Fiji by Jokim Kitolelei and Duncan Williams, in Kiribati by Elaine Bwebwe and Tiene Tooki, and in Vanuatu by Christy Haruel and Ann Tosiro. Comments by Don Forbes and an anonymous reviewer considerably improved the original manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick D. Nunn
    • 1
    Email author
  • William Aalbersberg
    • 2
  • Shalini Lata
    • 1
  • Marion Gwilliam
    • 3
  1. 1.University of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  2. 2.University of the South PacificSuvaFiji
  3. 3.Secrétariat de RAMSARGlandSwitzerland

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