Climate Forums Produce Call to Actions in Pacific Islands

December 18, 2023

Pacific Island residents face strong and immediate threats from climate change, given that they live on low-lying atolls or islands in a period of rising sea levels.  The islands are responsible for very little of the globe’s greenhouse emissions but are facing the direct impact of climate warming.

To adapt to these changing conditions farmers and ag professionals are interested in increasing efficiencies to reduce stress on local resources and dependence on imports, as well as climate-change mitigation. With Western SARE funding, ag professionals and researchers increased the capacity region-wide to tackle these challenges.

Dr. Clay Trauernicht, University of Hawai‘i, Dr. Patricia Fifita, Oregon State University, and Dr. Nat Tuivavagali, College of Micronesia-FSM, built on existing curriculum and the success of previous climate forums developed by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawai‘i by developing Climate Forums for Pacific Island Cooperative Extension Service faculty. Trauernicht, Fifita and Tuivavagali facilitated two-day climate forums on Pohnpei and Chuuk.

At the forums, 85 farmers and ag professionals addressed the “long-term sustainability, diversity, and cultural value of ancestral food systems as well as the opportunities that new crops and technologies present for increasing food security and the wellbeing of the people of Chuuk and Pohnpei who are at the frontline of climate change impacts.”

Through presentations and facilitated discussions centered around questions such as:

  • What is your understanding of climate change in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Pacific and how does it relate to your work?
  • What is your understanding of climate vulnerability and resilience in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Pacific and how does it relate to your work?
  • What existing resources can we use? What resources need to be developed?
  • What are our options to respond to climate change within cooperative extension programs? What are examples of cooperative extension programs where climate information is relevant?
  • How can we improve existing extension programs with climate-related information?
  • How can the weather services link to local knowledge and farmers? How does indigenous and scientific knowledge of climate and weather compare with each other? How can local knowledge help inform climate-smart agriculture and adaptation?

Participants broadened their knowledge and developed calls to action needed to address and mitigate climate change impacts on local agricultural systems.  Sixty-ninety percent of project participants reported a high level of knowledge of climate-change impacts on agriculture after the workshops.  In addition, 50-70% of participants indicated they felt confident to communicate about climate change after attending the forums and 40-60% indicated they would incorporate materials and topics into their work and educational activities. 

One participant stated, "I found this workshop to be helpful as a person without an agriculture/science background. I will be using what I've learned with my work with youth and people in the communities.”

In response to the climate forums, a project website was developed to provide regional overviews and project and farmer spotlights across various Pacific Islands. This site gathers both island-specific and regionally relevant climate information resources and mitigation strategies to support cooperative extension programs in the Pacific.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant:

Topics: 2023, Education and Training, Sustainable Communities, Underserved/Minority Audiences
Related Locations: Guam, Hawaii, Micronesia, Northern Mariana Islands, West