Climate change in the Pacific threatens not only livelihoods; it puts strain on traditional ways of doing things – agriculture, knowledge of land and seasons, and traditional culture.
In Tonga, communities have traditional handicrafts made by women, such as woven mats and bark cloth. These are made with local materials and require much skill and work hours and are valued highly. But as populations shift and become more transient, there is a danger the skills involved in traditional crafts are not passed on.
In the community of Pangai, in the Ha’apai group of islands, there is traditional mat-making, traditionally used in housing. These beautiful objects are now made also for the tourist trade. There is also a local dance that has significance for the community.
These are listed in the Community Resilience Profile process that is a part of the CRI programme, which documents local ecosystems and livelihoods that make the community distinctive. The profiles inform pathways the community decide on for climate resilience. This is a holistic process, because we know that community resilience is a holistic entity, incorporating many aspects of community life.
The profiling process contains an activity where members role play descendants coming from the future to comment on what the community looks like in 200 years’ time, in order to help community members envisage what a healthy community should look like to them. In Pangai’s roleplay, the ‘future ones’ expressed concern that climate change had made things so difficult that traditional culture, like the dance, was not maintained. The CRI programme aims to make sure this is not the eventuality.
The CRI programme is designed to include Indigenous knowledge in resilience planning, not just because this is valuable in itself, but also because we know that it is important for livelihoods, for strengthening intergenerational and other community relationships, and for cultural wellbeing, which all contribute to a community’s long-term resilience.
Live & Learn thanks the people of Pangai for their support and contribution to the CRI programme. We greatly appreciate your time and input.
Climate Resilient Islands is a New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade initiative, implemented by Live & Learn Environmental Education, with funding provided by the New Zealand Government.