Climatic Change

, Volume 110, Issue 1–2, pp 169–186 | Cite as

Misperceptions of climate-change risk as barriers to climate-change adaptation: a case study from the Rewa Delta, Fiji

Article

Abstract

While increasing research is focusing on the effective adaptation to climate change in richer (developed) countries, comparatively little has focused specifically on this subject in poorer (developing) countries such as most in the Pacific Islands region. A significant barrier to the development of effective and sustainable adaptive strategies for climate change in such places is the gap between risk and perceived risk. This study looks at a vulnerable location in Fiji—the densely populated Rewa River Delta where environmental changes resulting from shoreline retreat and floods are expected to increase over the next few decades and entail profound societal disruption. The numbers of people living in the Rewa Delta who know of climate change and could correctly identify its contributory causes are few although many rank its current manifestations (floods, riverbank erosion, groundwater salinization) as among their most serious environmental challenges. While lack of awareness is a barrier to adaptation, there are also cultural impediments to this such as short-term planning perspectives, spiritual beliefs, traditional governance structures. One way forward is to empower community leaders in places like the Rewa Delta to make appropriate decisions and for regional governments to continue working together to find solutions that acknowledge the variation in sub-regional trans-national vulnerability to climate change.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the South PacificSuvaFiji
  2. 2.University of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia

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