DUBAI, Dec 11 (IPS) – There is an irreparable connection between culture and the seas: loss of land due to rising sea levels and loss of livelihood due to changing fish migration patterns are having a massive impact on coastal communities.
This formed the core of discussions at an event titled Tackling Climate Change for Sustainable Livelihood in Island and Coastal Communities at COP28 in Dubai.
The panel included experts and climate advocates from across the globe, all sharing a common mission: to confront the intricate challenges faced by some of the world’s most vulnerable regions and explore sustainable solutions.
The Sasakawa Peace Foundation’s Ocean Policy Research Institute, the Palau Conservation Society, the National Institute of Oceanography and Marine Sciences of Sri Lanka, the University of Namibia, the Maldives National University, the University of the West Indies, and the Columbian Institute for Marine and Coastal Research were all involved in organizing the event.
Together, they sought not only to dissect existing challenges but also to share successful practices and foster potential partnerships for a sustainable future.
The panel discussion, co-moderated by Farhana Haque Rahman, Executive Director, IPS Noram, and Masanori Kobayashi, Senior Research Fellow, Ocean Policy Research Institute of Sasakawa Peace Foundation, included a rich tapestry of insights with diverse perspectives.
Rahman stressed the need for tailored solutions, emphasizing that the vast challenges faced by coastal communities often remain obscured in the shadows of mainstream international media. She passionately urged for a collective effort to illuminate these issues globally.
Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen, Director General of the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency, offered a scientific perspective, delving into the predicted impact of climate change on fisheries. She highlighted the dual threat posed in terms of abundance and distribution, stressing that science indicated a potential shift of biomass from exclusive economic zones to high seas, signifying a significant loss for coastal nations.
For countries heavily dependent on oceans, like those in the Pacific, fisheries were not just a source of sustenance but also a lifeline for economic development and government revenue.
An artist and environmental advocate, Uili Lousi, representing the Kingdom of Tonga, infused the discourse with cultural significance. He passionately articulated the inseparable connection between their heritage and the oceans. Lousi drew attention to the existential threat that melting ice caps and the potential migration of tuna due to rising sea temperatures pose.
“Our culture and our heritage are our ocean, and as the Arctic is melting, we are sinking.”
The event showcased voices from the frontlines of climate change impacts—Rondy Ronny, acting chief of Eco Paradise in the Republic of Palau, spoke of how fisheries were not just livelihoods but the very pulse of family well-being.
Climate change was disproportionately impacting livelihoods, particularly those of women, and there was a pressing need for solutions, Amin Abdullah, the warden in charge of marine parks and reserves in Tanzania, said while highlighting the vulnerability of coastal communities in the western Indian Ocean, where 25 percent of the population lives along the coast.
Alvin S Jueseah, chair of the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences at the University of Liberia, provided a stark portrayal of ground reality. He underlined the realness of climate change, with rising sea levels displacing residents, destroying fishing gear, houses, and, tragically, lives.
This had resulted in the necessity of building sea walls and implementing early warning systems to aid those facing climate change-related crises.
Collaboration was needed, Dr Hamady Diop, CEO of DnS Consulting, said, and he warned of the potential for transboundary conflicts arising from climate change, especially in regions where fishing is an industry. The industry was valued at USD 25 billion.
“With 38 coastal countries in Africa depending on fisheries, the implications of sea-level rise and temperature increases were dire,” he said.
The director of the Maldives Specie Research Agency, Ahmad Niyad, shed light on the critical importance of data availability.
Niyad stressed that one cannot manage what one cannot measure. The scarcity of data was a significant challenge faced by their organization, prompting a year-long focus on analyzing the situation and obtaining satellite monitoring data. He highlighted the unique economic reliance of island nations on tourism, an industry intricately linked with climate conditions.
“We island nations are together. We have one ocean, and we have to share it together,” was his message to COP28.
IPS UN Bureau Report
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