Strategies for vulnerable communities in Fiji and the wider Asia-Pacific region
Both responses to climate change, mitigation, and adaptation requires willingness and adjustments and, in the Pacific, consent and community involvement as resource ownership is largely customary.
Shalini Lata, doctoral candidate
School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences
This interdisciplinary PhD project aims to understand the vulnerability of Pacific Island countries to climate change and how their inhabitants perceive associated risks. The study combines research techniques, both from physical geography and spatial science to assess inundation risks of future sea-level rise and storm surge in a tropical river delta in Fiji, and from psychology to examine behavioural aspects of climate change adaptation, focused on community perceptions. Evidence from behavioural research suggests that response to any public risk issue is influenced by people’s perceptions and views. There is therefore scope to apply perceptions literature from other disciplines that have been attempting to address other risk issues like public health or natural disasters in responding to climate change. Both responses to climate change, mitigation, and adaptation requires willingness and adjustments and, in the Pacific, consent and community involvement as resource ownership is largely customary. To this end, a survey of climate change perceptions amongst a nationally representative Fijian sample was conducted throughout the study area. The survey collected information on both demographic (age, gender, education, employment, land tenure) and psychological (knowledge, information, risk perception, self-efficacy) data and investigated the relationship between these variables and climate change adaptation.
This study contributes to global research on climate change adaptation and exemplifies the use of cross-disciplinary research techniques in addressing a pervasive issue like climate change. By focusing on the perceptions of Pacific Island peoples towards climate-change, the project also fills a significant research gap.
This study will also assist in the design of effective adaptation and risk communication strategies for vulnerable communities in Fiji and the wider Asia-Pacific region. The results are expected to provide stakeholders with evidence-based advice and important insights about how to make climate change adaptation efforts more sustainable and community-inclusive than current practice.