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Planning for climate change using traditional and scientific knowledge

Roviana Climate Change Adaption—Building social and ecological resilience to climate change in Roviana, Solomon Islands. Pacific Adaptation Strategy Assistance Program (PASAP)
Project leader
Anne-Maree Schwarz
1 Jan 2011
28 Feb 2012
This project uses both traditional and scientific knowledge as part of an assessment of the vulnerability of coastal communities in the Solomon Islands to the potential impacts of climate change, then plans and tests adaptive measures that can be taken.

Local dependence on natural resources

Coastal fisheries and subsistence agriculture play critical roles in the food security of traditional Pacific Island society. Socio-economic surveys have shown that coastal Solomon Island villages are highly dependent on their local fish resources: around 73% of the fish catch is used for community subsistence and annual per capita fresh fish consumption is 118 kg, which is the equivalent of 94% of their dietary animal protein.

The Pacific Islands are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. The coral reefs that are the foundation of their fisheries are rapidly degrading and coastal agriculture is vulnerable to a range of impacts such as increasing salinization. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by a lack of understanding, awareness and information regarding the probable effects of a rise in sea-level.

This project brings together the twin elements of traditional and scientific understanding to assess the vulnerability of remote, traditional communities to the impacts of climate change. It is focused on the village communities living around the Roviana and Vonavona Lagoons on the island of New Georgia in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands.

The project will raise awareness of climate change science and adaptation options at the community level and will strengthen capacity for adaptive planning within communities, local governments and regional organisations.

Establishing the baselines and assessing the options

The WorldFish Center is engaged with one component of this project. The Center will carry out a desktop analysis and stakeholder consultation to document current climate change observations, trends and projections for this part of Solomon Islands. WorldFish will also carry out a trial Vulnerability and Adaptation (V&A) assessment.

Information from the assessment will be shared primarily through a local NGO, the Roviana Conservation Foundation. Adaptation actions identified by communities will feed into a community-led climate change adaptation plan being developed by project partners with the Roviana communities. The results will help refine the national approach to V&A assessment and allow comparisons to be made with sites that are low in scientific information but high in traditional knowledge, which is the norm in most of Solomon Islands. Overall this will strengthen the ability of the Solomon Islands government to agree on effective national vulnerability and adaptation approaches. Wider dissemination of findings will take place through linkages to various other climate change programmes through the Coral Triangle Initiative.