As Fiji Leads COP-23, Camari Koto Reflects on Climate Resilience in the South Pacific Islands
Climate change poses an undeniable threat to small island states, but many islanders do not even know what climate change is, says Camari Koto, an indigenous Fijian academic and educator at the University of the South Pacific and member of the Resilience Academy, in our latest podcast. “They know it’s happening, they are unconsciously [taking] adaptive responses,” and certainly feel the brunt of its effects, she says. “But they don’t see climate change as an immediate threat.”
As Fiji presides over the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP-23), perspectives in the South Pacific are beginning to shift. The first island nation to host the conference, Fiji is showcasing its leadership on climate change issues for both the global community and Fijians themselves, Koto says.
“Our government was able to engage right [at] the grassroots level in creating awareness” within Fijian communities, says Koto, an advocate for building sustainable livelihoods and community resilience. It is especially important for the younger generation to be sensitized to climate risks “to start thinking about the threats that we have now,” she says, “and about ways in which they can help to make things better.” We must “prompt them to think about ways forward.”
“It’s the community working together, collaborating, and valuing their relationship” to one another that is at the core of livelihood resilience, says Koto. Community is “the platform of our forefathers.”