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Building on Values from the Pacific Region in the Quest for Solutions to the Climate Crisis

by Te Kawehau Hoskins, Betsan Martin

The Environmental Governance network, based in the Pacific region, is building the concept of responsibility from the values and world views of the region, which combines enormous diversity in the concept of a “woven universe” …

As we have attended to environmental and governance issues in our region we join with others in appreciating the importance of decision-making and policy that links sectors, such as non-government, government and private sectors, and that links economic, cultural, social and environmental interests.

Environmental Responsibility in our Context

This kind of approach is well documented as the basis for strong sustainability and is often referred to as integrated management and governance. Achieving such integration is challenging where existing systems are built on these different spheres as separated.

The Pacific region still has significant indigenous populations and cultures with cultural diversity reflected in the language complexity. There are 1400 distinct languages spoken in the Pacific ‘basin’ (Pacific Islands with Australia and New Zealand), with 250 aboriginal languages in Australia and 750 in Papua New Guinea. A phrase which is often used to express the world views of these cultures is a "woven universe." This suggests the integrated nature of the living world and of the interdependence of humans with nature.

Indigenous cultures, although diverse themselves, uphold "obligation" as a value with an intergenerational requirement to safeguard land and water and resources for future generations. This is closely akin to the concept of responsibility as referring to both accountability and responsive. We therefore consider the Pacific region to have much to bring to the global quest for solutions to the climate crisis.

Regional Forums, Assemblies, Studies…

We ourselves hosted a symposium in Samoa where we brought together people from the countries of the region to consider possibilities for integrated approaches to governance. In January 2011 we joined with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to host an assembly in Aotearoa New Zealand, and were able to bring partners from Pacific countries. Our study of water issues in the region gives us knowledge of more possibilities for implementing integrated practices. There is a report of this study on our Web site, Response.

Published on: 27 October 2011
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