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Philip Malsale, Noel Sanau, Tile I. Tofaeono, Zarn Kavisi, Albert Willy, Rossy Mitiepo, Siosinamele Lui, Lynda E. Chambers, and Roan D. Plotz

Abstract

Traditional knowledge (TK) on weather and climate is an important aspect of community life in the Pacific. Used for generations, this knowledge is derived from observing biological and meteorological variables and contributes to building community resilience to weather extremes. Most of this knowledge is passed on orally and is in danger of being lost due to generational changes, leading communities to seek to preserve the knowledge in other ways.

This paper provides guidance on the successful collection and documentation of weather and climate TK in the Pacific by considering four key components: the legal and national context, in-country partnerships, the role of community, and national and community protocols. At the regional level legislation focuses on the protection of culture/TK and intellectual property, which are linked to national policies and laws. Within the national context consideration of the governance structure is critical, including obtaining approvals to conduct the studies. The next consideration is developing partnerships to establish and implement the projects, including working with appropriate ministries, media, donor organizations, and community groups. Community involvement in all aspects of the projects is critical, built on trust between partners and ensuring outputs are aligned with community needs. Following community protocols and procedures allows for effective sharing of TK. We document common protocols that were piloted and tested across four Pacific Island nations, illustrating similarities and differences between cultural groups, including recognizing cultural sensitivities and ensuring custodian rights are protected.

Open access