Development and Climate Change in Fiji: Focus on coastal mangroves

Type Working Paper - Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Paris
Title Development and Climate Change in Fiji: Focus on coastal mangroves
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2003
This report presents the integrated case study for Fiji carried out under an OECD project on
Development and Climate Change. The report is structured around a three-tier framework. First, recent
climate trends and climate change scenarios for Fiji are assessed, and key sectoral impacts are identified
and ranked along multiple indicators to establish priorities for adaptation. Second, donor portfolios are
analyzed to examine the proportion of donor activities affected by climate risks. A desk analysis of donor
strategies and project documents as well as national plans is conducted to assess the degree of attention to
climate change concerns in development planning and assistance. Third, an in-depth analysis is conducted
for Fiji’s coastal mangroves which help reduce coastal inundation and storm surge damages, but are also
themselves vulnerable to climate change.
Analysis of recent climatic trends reveals a warming trend in recent decades with country averaged
mean temperature increases of 0.9°C and 1.5°C projected by 2050 and 2100. In addition, sea–level is
projected to increase, with midrange scenarios yielding predictions of 10.5 cm by 2025 and 50 cm by 2100.
The Fijian economy is already quite vulnerable to extreme climatic events such as cyclones, floods, and
droughts, with the costs of storm surge impacts for individual events at times as high as a few percent of
the annual GDP. A subjective ranking of key climate change impacts and vulnerabilities for Fiji identifies
coastal resources as being of the highest priority in terms of certainty, urgency, and severity of impact, as
well as the importance of the resource being affected.
Fiji receives around 30 million dollars of Official Development Assistance (ODA) annually.
Analysis of donor portfolios in Fiji using the OECD-World Bank Creditor Reporting System (CRS)
database reveals that between 23-36% of development assistance (by aid amount) or 19-23% of donor
projects (by number) are in sectors potentially affected by climate change risks. These numbers are only
indicative, and the reader is referred to the main report for a more nuanced interpretation. Several donors
have been actively involved in efforts to assess the vulnerability of Fiji to climate change risks. However,
aside from climate specific projects, donors and the government have generally not explicitly recognized
the need to mainstream climate risks in their development work. There have however recently been a series
of high level consultations between Pacific Island governments (including Fiji) and donors, and the need to
mainstream climate responses in development activity is receiving increased attention.
The in-depth analysis on coastal mangroves in this report however highlights the critical
challenges that face the implementation or mainstreaming of no-regrets adaptation measures in Fiji.
Mangroves protect against coastal erosion and storm surge damages, but are themselves vulnerable to sea
level rise. Mangrove conservation is a no-regrets adaptation given the wide range of other ecosystem
services they provide to local communities. There is however a trend for continued loss of mangrove cover
in Fiji. One key reason is the significant undervaluation of mangroves which facilitates their conversion for
development activity. Successful mainstreaming of even no-regrets adaptation responses in Fiji might
therefore require greater policy coherence between climate change and development policies – appropriate
valuation of mangrove services is one such example. There is also a need for a coastal management plan
that prioritizes mangrove conservation, requiring adequate setbacks of development from the high water
line to facilitate mangrove migration, and engaging local communities in these processes.

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