Climate Change, Agriculture and Forestry in the Pacific

Contributions are invited to a consultation from PACE-Net (the Pacific Europe NETWORK for Science and Technology) on a draft white paper on climate change, agriculture and forestry in the Pacific region. PACE encompasses the 15 member countries of the Africa Caribbean Pacific Group, including the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, along with Australia and New Zealand. A number of these nations have forest cover in excess of 50 -80 percent of their land mass, with these forests of global significance in terms of their biodiversity. In addition, 65 – 85 percent of Pacific Islanders (some 10 million people) make their living from forestry, along with agriculture and fisheries. However there is a need for improved forest governance and land-use legislation in the Pacific region, to prevent the loss of this vital forest cover.

The Pacific Islands are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, yet lack a coherent science and technology strategy to support the development of innovative solutions to this and other challenges facing the environment and the sectors that support the livelihoods of so many. The PACE-Net consultation seeks views on an over-arching policy framework to address the vulnerability of the agriculture and fisheries sectors in the Pacific. Comments are also sought on proposals to embark on a programme of research, development and innovation to facilitate the development of policy to safeguard natural assets in the Pacific and to contribute to the sustainable management of these natural resources.

PACE-Net is supported by the European Commission under the seventh Framework Programme. It is a three-year programme aimed at strengthening bi-regional dialogue on science and technology between Europe and the Pacific countries. PACE-Net also aims to raise awareness of the critical importance of the Pacific region to global sustainability and highlight the vulnerability of its island states.

The draft paper has been developed by PACE-Net as the outcome of a conference which was held in Brussels in March last year. Once comments have been assimilated the final white paper will be adopted by Governments in the region and used to inform the development of relevant legislation.