Traditional knowledge key to the adaptation in the Pacific

01/11/2013 00:38

By Cherelle Jackson

APIA PEW: Adaptating to the impacts of climate change in the Pacific is not a new concept, in fact it’s deeply rooted in the cultures of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia whose ancient responses to changes in weather patterns have helped them adapt to the threats of climate change.

These include altering the ways crops are planted when there is salt water intrusion, or adopting a new form of thatching in anticipation of strong winds.  THe issue of utilising traditional knowledge in addressing sustainable development resonated throughout the meeting. The Samoa national assessment report for the SIDS highlights, "it is important to build on existing strengths of the people and culture. Traditional knowledge accumulated over many years of adaptation to life on small islands continues to determine much of the economic activities in the region. There is a need to explore opportunities to complement traditional economies in order to improve cash economies and provide new livelihoods without supplanting them".

But as the synthesis notes, the challenge lies in understanding the contribution of culture to sustainable development and the wellbeing of people.