Three-day workshop set to address pressing issues

Press Release – University of Otago

Three-day workshop set to address pressing issues of the Pacific

A workshop co-hosted by Otago’s National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPCS) and the Toda Peace Institute in Auckland this week will address the complex relationship between climate change, and conflict in the world and in the Pacific.

Professor Kevin Clements, of the NCPCS, says the three-day “Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific: Prevention, Management and the Enhancement of Community Resilience” workshop will be the first that brings together world-leading climate change experts, security policy makers with local Pacific peacebuilding researchers, civil society actors and practitioners.

“The effects of climate change are already being felt so it is vital we acknowledge its impact while initiating meaningful conversations between experts and people on the ground who are increasingly dealing with its realities,” he says.

Professor Clements says a key goal at the workshop – held between September 28 and 30 at the University of Otago’s Auckland Centre – is to set a framework for research that informs policy, promoting dialogue between researchers, governments and social agencies and people in the region, and producing real-world initiatives to address one of the region’s “most pressing issues; climate change.”

“Many of our speakers will bring ‘Northern Hemisphere’ knowledge, which will complement the perspectives of our delegates from around the Pacific.

“Our seminars are structured to explore a host of economic and cultural realities – and problems – that will all dictate how Pacific peoples and states respond to climate change.”

Professor Clements says examples of climate change and conflict already exist.

“Already some low-lying areas like Kiribati are threatened, or are uninhabitable, so we are entering an era of forced relocations, competition for limited resources like food, land and water, and cultural and ethnic issues related to relocation and loss.

“Potentially the changes will be catastrophic and momentous if we don’t start planning ahead so the question becomes, ‘are conflicts be inevitable and how can we prevent them from occurring? If this is not possible how do we manage and transform them creatively and non-violently’.”

While there is quite comprehensive research on ‘climate change and conflict’ and ‘climate change and security’ at a global level and focused on specific regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahel Zone and the Middle East, Oceania so far has attracted far less attention, he says.

“This is somewhat surprising, given the specific vulnerability of the region to the conflict-driving effects of climate change.”

Pacific Delegates:

Seforosa Carroll is a Minister of the Word in the Uniting Church of Australia, and Manager – Church Partnerships, Pacific within the Church Connections Unit of UnitingWorld.

Emele Duituturaga, a Fijian national, is the Executive Director of the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO).

Joseph D. Foukona is a lawyer and has considerable experience in his chosen field of land legislation and reform in the Pacific. He is a lecturer at the School of Law, University of the South Pacific since 2004.

Sylvie Goyet is Director, Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability at SPC – Pacific Community, based in Noumea, New Caledonia.

Genevieve Jiva is from Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, Suva, Fiji and is passionate about advocating for strong action on climate change.

Laiseni Fanon Charisma Liava’a is a Tongan priest in the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia. He is currently a PhD(in Pacific Studies) candidate at the University of Canterbury. His research focuses on climate change, churches and women in Tonga.

Rosiana Kushila Lagi is a teacher by profession and acquired her PhD in Education focused on the topic Na Bu: an exploratory study of Indigenous Knowledge of Climate Change and Education in Ovalau Fiji at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in 2015.

Tafue Lusama is an ordained minister of the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu. His doctoral research focuses on a new hermeneutical approach to the issue of Climate Change.

Josiah Dora Maesua is the National Co-ordinator for the UNDP Solomon Islands. His programme focuses on Climate Change—both mitigation and adaptation measures of rural communities.

Tepola Wainituvu Rabuli is a research assistant in the Breaking Wave – Climate Change and Re-Settlement project.

Ursula Rakova is an environmentalist and climate change activist from Papua New Guinea.

Florence Swamy is the Executive Director of the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (PCP).

Tammy Tabe is a Solomon Islander of I-Kiribati and Tuvalu descent. She is currently a Lecturer at the Pacific Center for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), at the University of the South Pacific (USP).

Upolu Luma Vaai is Head of Theology & Ethics at the Pacific Theological College, Suva, Fiji. His research focuses on how to reconstruct holistic Pacific approaches and paradigms to issues related to Climate Change.

International Climate Change Experts:

Volker Boege is senior research fellow of Toda Peace Institute in Japan. He is known for his numerous published works on Climate Change, conflict and security in Oceania.

Jürgen Scheffran is a professor in integrative geography at the University of Hamburg and the head of the Research Group: Climate Change and Security (CLISEC). His research focuses on security risks and conflicts of climate change; water-food-land nexus and human migration.

Lauren Herzer Risi is the Project Director of the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, Washington D.C.

Maxine Burkett is a Professor of Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai’i. She is an expert in the law and policy of climate change in the U.S., West Africa, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.

Kirsten Davies is an academic at Macquarie University’s Law School and Director of International Engagement. Her research focuses on intergenerational democracy, capacity building and sustainable development.

Seminar Topics:

What do international peace and conflict studies say about the climate change-conflict link?

How do Pacific thinkers approach the topic? What can local/indigenous knowledge contribute to conflict-sensitive adaptation and conflict prevention?

What do Pacific people at different levels (regional, national, local) do to address the challenges; initiatives of regional organisations, governments, and civil society organisations?

Community relocation and other adaptations – conflict-prone and/or conflict sensitive? Selected cases from Oceania.

‘Reality check’: policymakers and practitioners comment on the discussions so far: Do these discussions speak to their political practical problems? What kind of input do policymakers/practitioners need?

The International Workshop, co-hosted by University of Otago’s National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) and the Toda Peace Institute, will be held at the Auckland Centre of the University of Otago, Auckland on 28-30 September 2018.

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