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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
Lynda E. Chambers, Roan D. Plotz, Siosinamele Lui, Faapisa Aiono, Tile Tofaeono, David Hiriasia, Lloyd Tahani, ‘Ofa Fa’anunu, Seluvaia Finaulahi, and Albert Willy

Abstract

Traditional calendars document seasonal cycles and the communities’ relationships to their biophysical environment and are often used by communities, particularly subsistence farmers, to synchronize their livelihood activities with the timing of ecological processes. Because the timing of these ecological processes is not always consistent from year to year, the use of traditional seasonal calendars can help communities to cope with climate variability, particularly when biophysical phenomena become less predictable in relation to the Gregorian calendar, as has been observed in relation to climate change. Although the structure and content of seasonal calendars vary across the Pacific Ocean region, for many indigenous communities, knowledge of seasonal calendars can increase their capacity to cope with climate variability and change. To increase the effectiveness of their products and enhance their relevance to and uptake by the community, several Pacific meteorological services are now using traditional seasonal calendars in their climate communication and education, including in forecasts and warnings. The use of a participatory approach resulted in strong relationships and improved dialogues. Local communities appreciated assistance in enabling their knowledge to become available to future generations, and its inclusion in meteorological service products makes these products more accessible and relevant to community members.

Open access