Fiji’s internal and external challenges


Damages caused by the twin floods in 2012 cost Fiji government US$39mil. Donors provided 6.5mil to assist its humanitarian response and recovery. (Humanitarian Bulletin Pacific – OCHA)

Overall aid assistance to Fiji increased in 2011 and reached 5.2% of the total government budget. Its major donor countries used to be Australia and EU while China significantly increased its assistance after the 2006 military coup and China is projected to be the largest donor for 2011. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation)

At the global discussions and negotiations on climate change, I would expect Fiji, as part of AOSIS and a member of Pacific Island Forum, to advocate for significant emission reductions by the historical and current major emitters while expecting larger financial contributions to be made by the historical emitters as their climate debt.

Fiji, as a chair of G77, has now more role to play in the global climate change talk coordinating diverse positions, political relationships and economic interests including its own.

Disaster is part of our life

Torrential rains caused by tropical depressions caused widespread flooding in January and March 2012. The flooding caused significant damage, particularly to areas of the Western Division. The amount of damage totaled more than 39 million. The same areas were hit by the tropical cyclone Evan in December, which again damaged the roads, markets, houses, farms and others recovering from the earlier flooding.

Temporary shelter, Saravi settlement

“One thing you must remember, disasters such as floods should be part of your life and we should accept it now, because it will not stop and will continue to come,” Divisional Planning Office Western (Fiji), Luke Moroivalu said. (UNDP Fiji)

Same to you, Governments. You must remember disasters should be part of your life – legislation, policies and institutions need to be ready to make sure human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled in facing the flooding.

It is not only that you make sure the basic needs of people are met during the emergency but also, at normal time, you have to improve the situation of most marginalised sector in society, people in informal settlements, unemployed, landless, with disabilities, in remote areas without access to basic services, etc. who are the most affected when disasters occur.

Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT), at its lessons learnt meeting from the Fiji floods responses, reported the challenge of evacuation centers not having adequate access to water and basic sanitation and suggested the government to develop a criteria for the selection of evacuation centers to ensure they meet basic WASH needs. 

Another main challenge the Protection Cluster of PHT faced was the lack of an official protection structure within the authorities and the partners on the ground, which impeded a holistic approach.(Humanitarian Bulletin Pacific – OCHA)

Gangamma Devi, Nadi Municipal Market

Gangamma is one of the affected by the floods, deprived of her livelihood for a while. She sells vegetables in the Nadi municipality market since 2007. She is a mother of three children at home. When the level of rain water reaching higher she took her baby and sat on the rooftop of her house. She and her family were eventually moved to an evacuation centre.

 She recalled that the most difficult thing during and after the flooding was to secure food for her family. She needed cash to buy vegetables to sell at the market and buy food for her family. She could not come to the market because the roads to the market were damaged. “Only one packet of milk was distributed as a relief supply in a week, which was just enough for a baby for only a couple of days. Adult can eat other things but babies can only eat milk,” she said.

Ivamere Qio, Corociri settlement

Ivamere lives in Corociri settlement with her family including her 11 grand children. She and others in the settlement till the land lent from a chief of other village. Most of the crops were damaged by the floods but there were some crops and vegetables left in the farm which sustained the farmers and their families.

“We kept working on the farm, clear the land and plant again. Nothing special,” said Ivamere.

Fiji as a chair of G77

Ms. Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change visited Fiji and assured Fiji of its support during Fiji’s tenure as chair of the United Nations Group of 77 (G77).

“We (Costa Rica) have been chair of the G77 once and we know the challenges it brings to the table. It is very hard because the dynamics of the G77 now has really changed as it was five or six years ago…It is more fractured now and Fiji will have to bring all these developing countries together and also represent the group to development partners and umbrella groups,” said Figueres. (source)

Fiji enjoys another big support within G77 for its chairmanship through its close friendship and mutual interest with China.

China assured its support to Fiji’s chairmanship in G77:

Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, met Ambassador Peter Thomson in New York. Xie “took the opportunity to acknowledge Fiji’s effective work in maintaining G77 unity across the broad range of issues that the G77 is active on this year. At the same time, he assured Ambassador Thomson of China’s active and constructive role in supporting Fiji’s Chairmanship of the global body”.  (source)

Rain water harvesting, Qoma Island, Fiji

Fiji seems quite confident in expressing its prioritizing the relationship with China:

In a speech given on Tuesday to the Pacific Islands Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the Fiji High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr. Solo Mara, argued that the Pacific Islands region has a ‘voice that is beginning to be recognized on the global stage’ as it emerges as a possible “geo-strategic political pitch for the super-powers, particularly China and the United States.”

On the other hand, the High Commissioner said China was a “sincere development partner” that has demonstrated a sustained commitment in the region and “stepped in when other western development partners, such as the (United States) and the (United Kingdom), withdrew.” From this perspective, he called “improved and closer relations with China … an inevitable progression” and said that China had been more effective than Australia at filling “the vacuum” left when other western development partners pulled out. (source)

China demonstrated its support for Fiji particularly following the 2006 coup in which military leader seized power from the elected government while major western donors were critical on the slow democratic process made by the interim government.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChina also shows its interest in other pacific island developing countries:

The White Paper notes that China’s grant aid has doubled since 2005, and it now has a much larger concessional loan program than previously (p.248). In late September 2012, Papua New Guinea obtained a $A2.8 billion loan from China to improve the country’s infrastructure, particularly to upgrade the Highlands Highway and airports. More broadly, China had pledged more than $600 million since 2005 in ‘soft loans’, offering long interest-free periods to nations such as Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands. It also stepped up its aid to Fiji. (source)


Money matters, as far as it is reducing the GHGs being emitted and accumulated, as far as it is to ensure all human rights of all people including the right to development. It is clear that human rights obligations cannot be met by each individual state. And it is clear that the development path of the country cannot be driven by small portion of people for their own interests with their political and economic power.


Washed away by the waves – Sri Lanka

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“We used to have a big garden with chilies, potatoes, guava, mango, banana and many coconut trees. All had been washed away”, said Roshanthi.

Coastal erosion occurs over time due to various factors. The research (Eroding Coast – A serious environmental problem,   W. N. Wilson, Department of Georaphy, University of Colombo and S. N. Wickramarate, Department of Geography, University of Peradeniya, the year of publish unknown, considered the natural and human factors which contribute to the coastal erosion. Natural factors include wind factor, coast orientation, littoral drift, compartmentalisation, natural sand supply, lithology, continental shelf topography and sea level changes. Human factors included coral mining, sand mining, destruction of beach-rock, construction and destruction of vegetation. Although the research pointed out the correlation between sea level rise and coastal erosion, it only said “it is not possible to express a definite views on this at present”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is very few information on the sea level rise around Sri Lanka available on line. We may, however, consider the sea level rise as an effect of climate change is one of the important factors prompting the erosion along the coasts of Sri Lanka given the similar cases found around the world.


People in Kalpitiya, like other coastal areas in Sri Lanka, have been seriously affected by the coastal erosion and inundation.kalpitiya map

Most of the fisherfolk in Kalpitiya interviewed by National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) are migrants, have moved from other part of the Kalpitiya peninsula such as Keerimundal due to coastal erosion and inundation.


According to the research conducted by NAFSO, changes in the climate cycles and weather patterns are clearly felt by the fisher women in Kalpitiya, particularly higher sea level during the high tide, unseasonal monsoons and stronger gales.They pointed out that the narrow stretch of sand bar has submerged, which let more water come in towards the shore. They felt water level rises higher particularly during Dec-May (relatively dry season with strong wind in this area).

Since they do not own land in the new place, they filled the shore or wetland with sands and stones to create land and built houses. They built their houses with available materials like coconut leaves, cement brocks, some were built by NGOs. On such fragile land, they are still vulnerable to inundation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWater sometimes rises above the floor level. Some people evacuate to their relatives while some have to remain home staying on the table if there is no other places to go. Children cannot go to school.

The local government did not allow them to stay without permits. People had to fight for it. They have the votes. The villagers feel the local government does nothing for them. Only during the election campaigns they come to give them empty promises.

Some have electricity with regular power cuts. Some don’t but use kerosene lamps. Some even do not have a lamp.

There is a private owned water tank built in the community. Villagers have to pay 3-400 Rs or more per month for drinking water.

There is no toilet at home but communal ones. Without proper toilet it is difficult particularly when the area gets flooded. They buy firewood from the shops for cooking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAccording to the report by NAFSO, women’s lack of property ownership in the family is hindrance for social progress of women in the society. Some of the laws and traditional customary practices prevent women from owning the family properties when there are men in the family. No legal deeds of land ownership for women. None of the boat out of 4109 with outboard motors is owned by women in Kalpitiya.

Another serious issue affecting fisherfolk in Kalpitiya is the construction of the tourist attractions such as hotels and resort compound with private beach, which often grabbed the land from the local fisherfolk without consultation process and just compensation. For more on this issue, please see:

Shinakudripu, Kalpitiya

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALauna Meuri Farida is 60 years old with five children and husband (one child died earlier). Her family moved from Keerimundal in the 90s. Her house was built by an NGO.

Her husband used to go fishing but after he had his eyes operated, he makes and mends nets instead. She used to dry fish but due to the fish price increase, (she used to buy and make dry fish to sell) she makes and mends the fishing nets, too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPatricia is 28 years old with four children and husband. Her family moved from Keerimundal in the 90s due to the coastal erosion. “There are very few families left there. There were 650 families but now only 25 families left”, she said.

She and her husband used to go to the market and cut fish but now she has a small child. She cooks breakfast and sell to pupils and students. She gets up at around 3-4 am, takes care of her baby and prepares the breakfast to sell. After selling breakfast, she sends her children to school, prepares lunch, does all other house work, prepares for tomorrow’s cooking (grinding fish, etc.), prepares dinner, and around at 9-10pm goes to bed.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARoshanthi Fernando’s family is originally from Keerimundal, which is located on the peninsula. She shared her memory of Keerimundal. “It used to be a big and beautiful village with many big houses and churches. It was covered with many coconut trees. Her family used to live here for generations but moved to Kalpitiya in 1993. It was difficult in Keerimundal to access to hospitals, schools and other facilities most of which are located in the Kalpitiya town across the lagoon, no water facilities available. The sea water often inundated her house, which destroyed the houses built  by her great grand father and rebuilt by her grand father. The navy and the LTTE were also present there.



The sandy stretch of the area has been washed by the waves from Indian Ocean on one side and the lagoon on the other.

Mary Teresa Laten, Rosaline Dayas  and Arole Mary are among the few who remain in Uchimunai engaging in dry fishing and cutting fish, but many families have already left.


Roshanthi (left), Mary Teresa and Arole (right)

They are members of women’s association, Holy Cross Women’s  Society, which Roshanthi coordinates. Members discuss and manage the problems they face in their daily life collectively. They are also involved in mangrove reconstruction, income generation such as making fishing nets.  They have recently started exploring handicraft making using natural materials such as coconut husks, leaves of Palmyra Palm and reusing other wasted materials.




Damayanthi’s Family

Coastal erosion has been experienced by the fishing communities in Kalutara, southwest coast of Sri Lanka, too. “This beach used to be wider, had more land”, Damayanthi recalled. 250 fisher people go fishing from this beach. “There used to be houses on the shore, but all gone”, said Damayanthi.


The resent article tells a similar story: “Little concern for sea erosion in Kandakuliya”, The Sunday Times, December 2, 2012,

They are not feeling the heat: JPN “Options” for post 2012

Let’s look at the “Options” for Japan’s Post-2012 in terms of the issues pointed out by Ulrich Hoffmann in his “SOME REFLECTIONS ON CLIMATE CHANGE, GREEN GROWTH ILLUSIONS AND DEVELOPMENT SPACE”, 2011, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which demonstrated the “green growth myth”.

Hoffmann 1.  Can we achieve the required level of carbon intensity of production?

Under the prevailing growth paradigm, in a world of more than 9 billion people by 2050, assuming an annual GDP growth of 2 per cent till then as well as an appropriate catching up of developing countries in terms of GDP per capita (to the EU average of 2007), the global carbon intensity of production would have to fall to just 6g/$ of production to limit global warming to 2°. (In the scenario of 0.7%/year population increase with 1.4%/year average income growth, it would have to be reduced to 36g CO2/$.)

JPN: If we simply calculate emissions (kg) / GDP (US$) as carbon intensity of production, using the “ambitious” scenario presented in the report, the projections of the carbon intensity of production in 2020 and 2030 look far away from the target for the 2° global temperature rise/ 80% emission cut by 2050 presented by Hoffmann. Japan reduced around 44% over the last 20 years (1990-2010) and it has to cut more than 80% from 2030 projection to achieve 36g/$ in 20 years.

Japan’s carbon intensity of production based on the GOJ’s “ambitious” scenario

  1990 2010 2020 2030
GDP (bill US$)

(source: IMF)

3,058.038 5,458.797 5,518.844

(Est. 1,1% over 10ys)


(Est. 0.8% over 10ys)

GHG emissions (Gg, CO2 equivalent)


1,266,716  1,257,982 1,152,712

(Est. 9% cut 1990 base)


(Est. 20% cut 1990 base)

Kg/$ 0.414 (414g/$) 0.230 (230g/$) 0.208 (208g/$) 0.182 (182g/$)


Hoffmann 2. Is the massive absolute decline in material/resource/energy (MRE) use indeed feasible?

  • enhanced MRE efficiency and ample availability of cheap renewable energy will encourage a certain “rebound effect”, i.e. physical consumption is likely to increase as a result of lower prices and the shifting of thus saved consumer money or investment funds.
  • Some of these technical advances rely onmaterial, which is either scarce or very energy intensive to produce or difficult to re-use, recycle or safely dispose of.
  • According to Bleischwitz et al. (2012: 21), “the upswing for eco-industries in the North may have a dark side in the South: resource-rich countries being moved into rapid extraction paths.

JPN: “Rebound effect” – that is what the “green growth” aimed for by the strategy proposed by the report.

The report encourages to produce (not reduce) “biomass plastic” by biomass refinery to replace petroleum-derived plastic and the biomass refinery technology has not yet been at the commercialised level in Japan.

The report says that the stable supply of a large amount of homogeneous bio-energy sources domestically and overseas has to be ensured.

Although the report promotes to increase the efficiency in domestic production of bio fuel, there are bio-energy production related projects carried out outside the country. The report presented no consideration of the possible negative impacts on the countries providing the raw materials for producing the “new, clean energy” to Japan.

Corporation location Project
Itochu, Nikki (JGC corporation) and others Isabela, Philippines Sugarcane plantation (11,000ha) and bio-ethanol production (54,000 kl/y)
Pacific Bio-fields, Philippines Ilocos Norte, Philippines Large-scale coconut  plantation and production of biodiesel targeting 100,000 ha, 300,000kl/y
Itochu Binh Phuoc, Vietnam Ethanol production from cassava targeting 100,000  kl/y
Japan Bio-Energy Development Corporation Myanmar Jatropha crude oil production

100t/month to export to Japan

Itochu Johor, Malaysia Palm shell pellets production, targeting 24,000t / year

Biomass white paper 2011, Biomass Industrial Society Network,

The Philippine Star, July 26, 2010,


Hoffmann 3. Just shifting MRE to developing countries?

A considerable part of MRE efficiency gains in developed countries has been achieved not by “real physical savings” resulting from changes in production and consumption patterns/modes, but by “outsourcing” very MRE-intensive production to developing countries.

JPN: Japanese automobile business is shifting its production from their domestic factories to outside the country to survive the strong yen recession. Toyota decided to move its production of the export cars to the North America – 25,000 cars / year to its factory in France while Nissan plans to reduce its domestic production by 15% by next month. (Chuo Nippo (26 June 2012),

Japanese automobile production:

2011: 27.2% of the world production; -12.8% in domestic, +1.5% in oversea production from the previous year.

2010: 29.2% of the world production; +21.4% in domestic, +30.3% oversea production from the previous year.

(Automobile information centre,


Hoffmann 4. Can renewable energy reduce MRE use?

It will be technically extremely challenging to completely replace fossil fuel by renewable energy (RE). Wind and solar, the two most promising RE sources, are variable and intermittent, and therefore cannot serve as “base-load” electricity, requiring substantial conventional electricity capacity as backup. They also require significant material input into the production of solar panels and wind turbines and a major upgrading of storage capacity, transmission lines and the creation of intelligent grids, all set to drive up material consumption (and related costs).

JPN: The report estimates the increase in the power generation by the renewable energy: solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and biomass by 1.3-2.0 times by 2020 and 2-3 times by 2030 against the nearest year level.

It predicts the increase in the use of coal and LNG for the thermal power generation to backup the renewable energy power plants though it promotes more LNG use than coal. It is concerned that running thermal power plants on low power as backup may reduce energy efficiency and increase CO2 emissions.


Hoffmann 5. Can we rely on the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology to offset the coal consumption increase?

Coal will be one of the fossil energy sources to back up the RE because of the supplies of which have a geological reach of some additional 200 years. However,  the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology is at early experimental stage and thus still largely unproven, absorbs at least 20 per cent of energy generated by the concerned power plants, reduces the efficiency rate of the whole plant by at least a quarter and might never be available at sufficient scale in the not too distant future

JPN: The report reveals that the CCS technology is the key strategy for emission reduction to offset the increase in the use of coal. The technology has not yet been commercialised in Japan. (CCS is not counted as contribution to the emission reduction targets of 2020 and 2030)


Hoffmann 6, GHG emissions from agricultureare projected to rise by almost 40 per cent till 2030. What are the strategies to offset this?

Significant external (fuel-related) inputs are the major causes and driving forces of agricultural GHG emissions.

If the emissions from agricultural production, related land-use changes, and emissions from food processing, packaging, transport and retail, as well as food wastage are aggregated, the total emissions are estimated to account for almost half of all global GHG emissions (GRAIN (2012).

JPN: The major strategy in the agricultural sector presented in the report is to reduce the emissions from greenhouse horticulture by introducing energy saving agricultural machines, such as heat insulation cover, heat pump, LED bulbs, using more solar energy – so, more materials to be manufactured and consumed.

It promotes energy saving and low emission schemes “according to the actual situations of the food industry”, which means that the existing system of food production, distribution and consumption, which should be restructured, will be preserved.

The policy to reduce fertiliser application in the report sounds fine.


Hoffmann 7. How should we deal with the projected increase in the world population which will drive the scale effect of production and consumption?

Population will increase by about 35 per cent, from 6.9 billion in 2010 to about 9.3 billion by 2050 (UN/DESA (2010). While it is a fact that the countries with the highest population growth have contributed least to GHG emissions thus far, this is only because their populations continue to live in extreme poverty.

Yes, we need to look at not only both the gaps in the historical total and per capita emissions between developed and developing countries but also the emission (consumption) gap within the country. Cutting emissions but leaving the marginalised sectors without access to necessary MRE, their human rights continue to be violated.


Hoffmann 8. How do we have to change our life style to have the actual effect on emission reduction?

Current consumption patterns, methods and lifestyles are also subject to profound change. It is rethinking how we organise our daily life, altering the way we socialise, exchange, share, educate and build identities.

  •  We need to concentrate on societies and structures as a whole, rather than their individual actions. (Vermeulen (2009: 25)
  • Consumption patterns will not significantly change unless income distribution changes as well.

JPN: The report encourages individuals to be mindful of energy saving and take low carbon action such as buying low carbon equipments to replace the old ones (well, buy stuff anyway!).

You can quickly think that the things which serve for our life “convenient” at unnecessary level:  the cold chain system, individual door to door next-day shipping and delivery, notorious vending machines which keep canned drinks warm or cool for 24hs everyday, super markets and convenience stores which open for long hours where food items are kept cool but quickly wasted, etc., those “convenient life” need to be given up and those industries should be restructured and phased out.


References in Hoffmann (2011):

Bleischwitz R, Bahn-Walkowiak B, Ekardt F, Feldt H and Fuhr L (2012). International Resource Politics: New challenges demanding new governance approaches for a green economy. Discussion Paper, Heinrich Böll Fundation and Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (forthcoming);

GRAIN (2012). Food, climate change and healthy soils: the forgotten link. In: UNCTAD, Trade and Environment Review 2011/2012 (forthcoming);

UN/DESA (2010). World Population Prospects, 2010 Revision. Available at:;

Vermeulen S (2009). Sustainable Consumption: A Fairer Deal for Poor Consumers. UNEP/GRID, Environment and Poverty Times, No. 6, September. Available at: