Cyclone Winston

Fiji is currently undergoing policy and institutional reform that involves the updating of existing legislation and policies, and the development of new legislation and policies. The focus of the reform is to ensure sustainable economic and social development and thereby improve the livelihoods of all communities in Fiji. Policies have been developed in the areas of agriculture, land use, forestry, fisheries and water. They focus on the sustainable management of Fiji’s natural resources and the establishment of appropriate institutional arrangements for effective implementation and monitoring. 

A major component is the incorporation of environmental management in order to address issues that emanate from natural hazards and unsustainable resource management and utilisation. These policies play an important role in supporting efforts to reduce adverse impacts of climate change on Fiji’s economic and social development. Climate change constitutes one of the greatest barriers to sustainable development. It puts Fiji’s biodiversity and ecosystems, particularly marine and coastal, at risk. This has severe implications for Fiji’s economic growth, as the country relies heavily on its natural resources for economic development; fisheries, forestry and agriculture are its primary industries. The effects of climate change are widespread and cross-sectoral. Effective co-ordination of a multi-disciplinary approach and a well-established government position on issues and policies are required to address the impacts of climate change. In 2007, Cabinet endorsed Fiji’s National Climate Change Policy Framework, which defined the position of government and other stakeholders on issues of climate change, climate variability and sea level rise. It also defined the various responsibilities of each stakeholder in the short and long term. The framework underwent review in 2011 to reflect current and emerging climate change issues at the local, national and international level. The reviewing and updating of the framework led to the development of this National Climate Change Policy, in accordance with the 2011 Corporate Plan of the Department of Environment under its Climate Change Programme. The policy provides a platform for coordination among sectors, and direction on national positions and priorities regarding climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

The policy recognises the need for constructive co-operation among all relevant sectors. This interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral approach is emphasised in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro. In the Pacific region, intergovernmental organisations such as the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) are implementing regional climate change programmes that support the development of national programmes and policies. I express my sincere gratitude to the many stakeholders, which include non-governmental organisations, development partners, community-based organisations and of course the various government sectors, for their commitment and assistance during the development of this policy. The contribution of these stakeholders ensured that the policy is coherent, comprehensive, feasible and appropriate.

The development of the policy was made possible through the financial support provided by the SPC/ GIZ Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region programme and the UNDP/GEF Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change project. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance provided by the two programmes. As climate change will affect all sectors, this policy will serve to provide over-arching guidance to all sectors on climate change issues. I urge all stakeholders to foster partnerships and collaboration for the successful implementation of the National Climate Change Policy. 

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