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More than sixty Pacific experts attend major conference on Indigenous knowledge and the climate crisis

07 May 2024

CHRISTCHURCH, 7th May 2024 --- More than sixty Pacific experts from the Pacific region will attend a conference to reflect on the nexus between Indigenous knowledge and the climate crisis in the Pacific region.

The conference is organised by the University of Canterbury (UC) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) with support from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) using the theme, "Re-imagining climate crisis resilience and Indigenous knowledge”. The conference is part of the Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA) project and will be held on 8-10 May 2024 at the University of Canterbury, Ōtautahi Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand.


Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA)

The Pacific Ocean Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA) is a research project and partnership between the University of Canterbury (UC) and the University of the South Pacific (USP). It is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

The research project is in response to a number of major problems and challenges facing the Pacific region in relation to issues of climate crisis. To address these challenges, this pioneering study aims to provide a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, multi-methodological and integrated assessment of the climate crisis and the ocean covering sixteen (16) countries in the Pacific region. Significant in this study are Pacific Indigenous knowledges on climate change, based on centuries of knowledge production, daily experience and observation, continuous adaptation, innovative responses to disasters, development of resilient mechanisms, protection of the environment, and the centrality of interconnections between the ocean, sky, land, and people. This research gives voice to Pacific Indigenous knowledge systems and how they can work together in harmony with western scientific approaches.

With an interdisciplinary approach, it will provide needed integrated data which is often missing from Pacific regional positions on climate change. It aims to support Pacific Island countries to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change through effective evidenced based decision making by documenting the breadth and depth of climate extremes on Pacific people, land and ocean as well as identify and share existing practices of Pacific resilience.

This data from the research will strengthen policy framing for Pacific governments as well as be useful for global negotiations to promote the unique Pacific voices and experiences, which is often subdued by the more technologically-dominant countries.


Re-imagining climate crisis resilience and Indigenous knowledge

There are more than sixty (60) Pacific experts from around the region including Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga , Tuvalu, and Vanuatu as well as delegates from within Aotearoa New Zealand who will be at UC to discuss the climate crisis in the region and share experiences and existing practices of Pacific resilience.

The conference theme is “Re-imagining climate crisis resilience and Indigenous Knowledge”. The participants consist of academics and practitioners in fields related to climate crisis in the Pacific region who are also authors of the assessment report. Central to the presentations and discussions of the three-day conference will be the weaving of Pacific Indigenous Knowledge and Science and how each can inform the other to support Pacific mitigation, adaptation, and resilience in the face of a climate emergency. The conference is an invaluable opportunity for authors to provide a participatory review of the different assessment chapters in preparation for the submission of the Final Order Draft in June. The assessment report is one of the four (4) outputs of the project which also include an interactive map which will identify mobility trends and patterns in the Pacific. Furthermore, the project will produce research papers and policy briefs for national, regional, and international decision making as well as an accessible database of climate related research in the region.


Keynote speakers for the conference

Keynote speakers for the conference are Dr Joeli Veitayaki and Dr Seeseei Samosoni.

Dr Joeli Veitayaki is the current Strategic Adviser to Blue Prosperity Fiji, a partnership led by the government of Fiji and the Waitt Institute of the USA to support the implementation of the Fiji National Ocean Policy’s three priority areas of Marine Spatial planning, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Fisheries. He was an Associate Professor at the University of the South Pacific’s School of Agriculture, Geography, Environment, Ocean and Marine Studies where he taught for over three decades. This saw him undertake marine resource management and embark on community-based projects and research in most of the Pacific Island countries. He has published widely on topics including Ocean resource management, community-based approaches, climate change adaptation and sustainable fisheries. His focus now is to empower and mobilise community-based resource management in local communities where all appropriate resource management ideas should be articulated and put into practice to support resilient Pacific Island communities into the future. For the Pacific Ocean Climate Crisis Assessment project, Dr Veitayaki is the lead coordinating author for the chapter on ‘Solwara, Moana, Ocean and local communities: the social, cultural and economic connections’.

Dr Seeseei Molimau-Samasoni is the Manager for the Plants & Postharvest Technologies Division in the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa. She leads research implementation both in the laboratory and is involved in liaising with partner Ministries within Samoa, including the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, and the Ministry of Health. At times, Seeiseei is required to report directly to the Minister of SROS and to the Prime Minister of Samoa.  She is also an djunct Associate Professor, Postharvest Horticulture at the University of Sunshine Coast; a member of the Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research, University of Sunshine Coast and a Fellow of the Meryl Williams Fellowship (ACIAR).

For more information contact Dr Christina Tausa (

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