Adaptation Planning in the Pacific

Working with communities of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the face of climate change

SESSION: Friday 22nd March, 3:50pm - 4:20pm
Cole Burmester & Cushla Loomb

The increasing threats of climate change impacts are being experienced around the world. Pacific Island nations are at the fore front of these impacts, particularly given the low lying and remote nature of many of these countries. Given this, climate change adaptation and planning for more resilient communities is of key importance, with the increasing need for National Adaptation Plans in Pacific Island nations more evident than ever. This year, a team of consultants led by Beca have been working on a Vulnerability and Adaptation Planning Assessment (VAPA) throughout the urban, semi-urban and rural atolls in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) to inform the Governments' National Adaptation Plan.

The Marshallese have strong cultural ties to their land and atolls and therefore have expressed the desire to remain on their land and maintain the way of life 'until they have their swimming togs on'. However, the need to sustain a freshwater source, lifeline infrastructure and food security means that there is a complex array of considerations to maintaining that way of life. The consideration of what adaptation options are appropriate for these communities, and the potential triggers for when they may need to switch into an alternative adaptation pathway, need to carefully balance the desires of the community with wider social and economic considerations.

This paper will describe the VAPA undertaken and relate key outcomes and conclusions for both the Pacific and New Zealand.

Presented By

Cole Burmester

Associate - Planning, Beca Ltd

Cole is a planner with over ten years of planning and policy, experience. He has led teams of multi-disciplinary technical specialists with significant community and stakeholder engagement. Cole is currently working as an environmental safeguards specialist in the Pacific to address environmental and social risks in development projects and minimize and mitigate, if not avoid, adverse project impacts on communities and the environment.

Cushla Loomb

Business Director - Climate Resilience, Beca Ltd

Cushla has over 20 years of statutory, policy and strategic planning with a focus on climate resilience and adaptation. Cushla leads Beca's multi-disciplinary work in climate climate risk and adaptation across New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific.

Cushla is passionate about bringing a long term view to day to day decisionmaking and balancing the needs of communities with the increasing challenges of a changing climate.