In Oceania, population growth and economic development trends put a strain on oceanic and island ecosystems. Freshwater scarcity, overexploitation of fisheries, loss of land biodiversity, forests and trees, invasive species, soil degradation, increasing levels of settlement, poor management of solid and hazardous waste, and disproportionate use of coastal areas are some of the problems.
Climate change exacerbates most of these trends, while also raising questions about the future sovereignty of some island states (ADB 2010, Australian State of the Environment Committee 2011).
Climate change risks:
Socio-economic and socio-political challenges:
Small pacific island states have restricted economic, natural and human resources and often rely on energy and food imports. The infrastructure of many islands is poorly developed. The unfavourable environmental factors are likely to make the predicted population growth, migration to the main islands and the outflow of qualified work even more problematic (Maas/Carius 2010).
The Council of Regional Organizations of the Pacific (CROP) coordinates several regional institutions involved in environmental cooperation. This includes the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, for which climate change is a major topic on the agenda. CROP also comprises the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), whose Land Resources Division works in the area of agriculture and forests, and whose Applied Geoscience and Technology Division deals with natural disaster risk reduction and water issues. Last but not least, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) focuses on the protection of the environment and sustainable development in the region. It oversees, inter alia, the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change (PIFACC). The Pacific Small Island Developing States have further formed an informal negotiation group to voice their concerns more effectively in the UNFCCC process.
ADB 2010: Responding to Climate Change in the Pacific. Moving from Strategy to Action. Philippines: ADB.
Australian State of the Environment Committee 2011: State of the Environment Report.
Australian Government 2012: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.