Pacific Island nations contribute less than 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Since this seems an insignificant amount why would leaders of these nations want to make their economies and lifestyle more sustainable?
“Consumerism and economic growth are not the only priorities for any nation but unfortunately this is the case right now,” says Fei Tevi, Coordinator of the Leadership, Green Growth and Sustainability Initiative at IUCN Oceania. “In the Pacific Islands people also value their culture, their land, and their families and for the majority their spirituality and the concept of green growth encompass all of these aspects.”
Tevi believes that leaders should be concerned about the future of their people who elected them and not so much about global image.
According to Tevi the idea of green growth presents an opportunity for island leaders to change and move away from thinking “you caused it, you change it”.
“Green growth is not just about making processes and systems green but the gist of it is really about changing the current thinking that our leaders have which is largely centered on profit”.
For a region economically, socially and culturally dependent on its natural resources the urgency comes with the issue of climate change.
“Climate change is the gun to green growth,” says Tevi. “If we don’t change now our land and our people will be the first to go under.”
The good news is change is happening in the region but slowly. For instance, at the Special Melanesian Spearhead Group Summit held in March 2012, leaders of the Melanesian countries made some huge declarations on blue carbon, green growth and climate change.
Green growth will be a widely debated topic at the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress. On September 10 Tevi will feature in the event ‘Rethinking sustainability in Melanesia’ at the Just World Pavilion.