Home to about 1 million people, Fiji is composed of three hundred islands, about a third of which are inhabited. Once a beautiful island paradise, the country is now becoming a danger onto itself. The sea levels have been rising by about six millimeters a year since 1993, a number that is far higher than average. This rise in sea levels and the resulting saltwater intrusion that stems from the increased intensity of coastal floods have made sections of the island nation utterly uninhabitable. The only way that Fiji will survive as a country is by countering the impact of climate change.
Many challenges are coming from rising sea levels. Because stronger El Niño patterns accompany them, the islands are now more susceptible to deadly food and water-borne ailments. Tropical cyclones are becoming increasingly common and are stronger and stronger each time. The people of Fiji are far more prone to catching viral diseases.
The excess in saltwater is also destroying farmland, which is, as a result, ruining the crops that the Fijians need to feed the population. Farming communities must now move to higher ground, which means less fertile land. The damages to the main island have so far come to $52 million per year, which amounts to 4 percent of the national GDP.
But it is not too late to turn this crisis around. With collective action from the industrialized nations of the world, the Fijian government, and the nation’s private sector, can these severe problems come to a halt. Despite its status as a developing nation, Fiji is at the frontline in the advocacy of climate change. The main obstacle remains that the country lacks the resources to fully implement protective measures, which is why the coalition is necessary.
This November, the island nation will continue to battle one of the most significant challenges threatening the land. The Green Growth Plan, developed to pursue a sustainable future, has proven a useful tool to promote positive development in the country. The plan itself involves a pledge to completely transition to renewable energy sources by 2030 and to adopt a reforestation policy designed to collect carbon from freshly planted trees. Fiji has kickstarted efforts to monitor and launch a rapid response to risks related to climate by working alongside the United Nations, the Green Climate Fund, and the Global Environment Facility.
From an international perspective, Fiji hosted several delegations from the United Nations bodies to address the impact of climate change. In fact, Fiji was the first country to sign the Paris Agreement. This document seeks to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius. However, Fiji has come forward as a vocal proponent of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In 2017, Fiji became the first small island developing state to join the User2 Coalition, an organization committed to reducing the global average temperatures. This is to be done via the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to less than two annual metric tons per capita by 2050.
At the twenty-third Climate Change Conference, Fiji launched its National Adaptation Plan and released the results of the island region’s first Climate Vulnerability Assessment. It also started five and twenty-year national development plans to highlight Fiji’s commitment to resistance against climate change, sustainability, and carbon neutrality.
Fiji is taking the necessary steps to take the country out of the dangerous position it is currently in. The forces at hand are working to make the change that the rest of the world should follow.