A tangle of tree roots on a Fijian beach

Commenting on the event, one community leader said: “...everyone here has come to listen, so let’s keep talking. The brightness of our tomorrow depends on the decisions we make today.” 

By engaging in direct dialogue with a government representative, community representatives felt that their issues had been heard and acknowledged, paving the way for them to engage with government representatives more confidently.

This event also marked the launch of the “Peacebuilding Approaches to Climate Change in Fijian Communities” guide. This guide has been produced by Transcend Oceania and Conciliation Resources to document appropriate ways of working with communities, in a way that shares power equally and meets community members half way.

Climate change does not directly cause violent conflict in the Pacific. In fact, responses to climate change can often inspire increased cooperation around land, settlement and resources. However, alongside the inherent risks associated with climate change, inappropriate responses by outside organisations can increase the risk of conflict in communities.

Community members have reported to Transcend Oceania that outside organisations often enter communities for a few hours to conduct a “consultation” and do not take the time for proper dialogue or joint strategising of plans. Interventions are then not contextualised and ignore the potential which lies in drawing upon existing community knowledge and strengths. This lack of understanding of community contexts can lead to conflict emerging and result in the failure of proposed climate change responses.

Recognising this ‘gap’ that can at times exist between communities and external parties, Transcend Oceania and Conciliation Resources have documented ways of working with iTaukei (indigenous) communities in rural Fiji. The guide has been produced to assist all of us to work with communities in a way that focuses on community agency. This can help to make sure interventions are successful, to ensure a 'do no harm' approach, and help contribute to reducing the long-term risk of conflict.

The guide is available here.