The new Pacific Islands Climate Storybook details community experiences in addressing the impacts of a changing climate in Pacific Island countries. Originally published in 2015, the Storybook was made possible through the extraordinary efforts of numerous government agencies and non-government organizations throughout the Pacific Islands region. The 2021 update to the Storybook reflects additional case studies and experiential knowledge, as well as scientific data. With emphasis on the vital need for climate early warning, the stories highlight the use of or need for climate services to increase community resilience to a changing climate.
In American Sāmoa, for example, lessons learned from a devastating drought considerably lessened the impacts of a later, even more severe drought. Constant monitoring of regional climate information and a public prepared to mitigate the risks made a striking difference. Because of early warnings, Manus residents in Papua New Guinea were ready to move uphill when an extremely rare ocean swell flooded their island. In Vanuatu, a guidebook and innovative animation are translating science from climate early warning systems into useable strategies for farmers and others especially vulnerable to climate variability. In the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the health sector benefits from advance drought warnings to prevent vector- and water-borne disease outbreaks, such as the historic dengue fever outbreak in 2019. These stories and more can be found in the new Pacific Islands Climate Storybook.
“Climate change is not just rising sea level and weather change. It’s health, it’s disease, and it’s impacting people right now.” ~ Marshall Islands Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal
The Storybook consists of two parts: the first, details an extensive Climate Services Dialog process, with draft agendas, worksheets, and templates for users who wish to hold their own dialog workshop. The Dialogs are designed to enhance scientific and technical capacity by joining climate service providers and users to build regional networks, package and disseminate climate-related information, develop new products and services, and advance training and capacity-building. The first part of the Storybook incorporates technical material, process guides, and activities that were used to conduct the Dialogs and build Climate Stories, which make up the second part. The Climate Stories are a collection of local case studies about climate change and variability-related issues, actions, and key messages obtained from the dialogs in narrative form. This approach conveys information in a way that is easy for decision-makers and stakeholders to understand and apply.
Taken together, the updated Pacific Islands Climate Storybook conveys an approach that is easy for decision-makers to understand and apply, and can serve as a model for governments and other organizations that seek to engage communities in adapting to a changing climate. With support provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Pacific RISA, the project was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) working closely with the Pacific Island Meteorological Services and numerous other partner organizations across the Pacific and beyond.
Featured image credit: Drought on Ailuk Atoll (Republic of the Marshall Islands). UN Development Programme.