Adaptability and resilience to the changes that islands face today was the highlight of the first day of the three-day Pacific Islands Environmental Conference on Tuesday at the Royal Taga Hall of the Saipan World Resort.
The keynote speaker during the first day of the conference, Roger Mark De Souza, highlighted the many changes that have been occurring on different islands.
It doesn’t matter which island, according to De Souza, as every island has been facing something similar—rise in global temperatures, rising sea levels, and the melting caps of the Arctic.
De Souza said these disparate events will soon cause the submersion of many beautiful islands like the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Because of drastic changes in worldwide climates, cultures and traditions will be lost, he added.
However, because of these things that consistently happen on many islands, there may be a solution to possibly salvage the islands that are facing extinction.
“There is a possibility for us islanders to be innovators,” said De Souza, who is currently the director of population, environmental security, and resilience at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
He cited the case of Timor-Leste’s tara bandu, a traditional law that is still implemented to control the use of natural resources.
According to De Souza, he has been working to understand the role of traditional knowledge and customs in response to climate change.
In his studies, De Souza has come across traditional knowledge, culture, customs, and traditions that could be implemented in other islands that could possibly combat ecological challenges.
According to De Souza, more islanders are standing up for island resilience against climate change and recognizing their limitations and coming up with new ways to approach climate risks and challenges.
In a later interview, De Souza said that, although help is needed, islanders aren’t just asking for help. Islanders have been also using their resources to prove that they are not as vulnerable as they are thought to be. According to De Souza, islanders have shown innovation in island resilience and others could possibly learn from these islands.
The conference is therefore a great opportunity to learn from different islands across the Pacific on different ways to combat climate change, he said.