Arizona State University Foundation for A New American University

Navigating Resilience in the Pacific

Lead Organization

Arizona State University Foundation for A New American University

Tempe, Arizona, United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

The Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Pacific voyage will partner with Arizona State University and Conservation International to engage governments and communities in 50 countries, to connect learning with action on climate change adaptation at scale. In communities, we will provide training on securing food and clean water, and strategies for adapting to sea-level rise and eliminating ocean plastic. With governments, we will draw on proven policy approaches that use the power of nature to address the climate crisis. We will share this work globally through international convenings to inspire political will and with the general public through innovative communication partners to inspire 10 million voyages or “movements” among the communities most threatened by climate change to achieve a fair, prosperous, and sustainable future.

Problem Statement

Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. In February 2019, the World Economic Forum released the Global Risks Assessment, which showed 7 of the top 9 threats to global stability resulting from environmental degradation, including extreme weather events, water crises, large-scale involuntary migration, and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation. Pacific rim nations are threatened by climate change perhaps more than any other on Earth. Sea-level rise, ocean warming and acidification threaten freshwater supplies, economies, food security, and for some, it threatens to swallow the very ground they walk on. For example, in 2013, Typhoon Yolanda devastated the Philippines. Some 575 municipalities were hit with 6m high waves and 5m storm surges that destroyed homes and inundated coastal regions, debilitating many communities already under stress. It is estimated that about 1,500,000 families were affected, with 6,300 dead and 918,260 families displaced. Climate change will increase the prevalence of these storms throughout the region.Adapting to climate change for these highly threatened populations is of paramount importance. Many Pacific countries have shown earnest efforts to protect people from the impacts of climate change through nature-based commitments under the Paris Agreement, national adaptation and mitigation plans, as well as other policies specifically aimed at preparing countries for extreme events and climate related impacts to food security and freshwater availability. However, the knowledge, ability, and belief required to translate international and national scale plans and commitments to local action is missing.

Solution Overview

Our ocean and coastal based solutions directly address climate adaptation, food security, and severe weather impacts given that most, if not all, of the Pacific Rim countries are disproportionately dependent on the ocean environment. We will leverage the upcoming PVS Pacific Rim voyage to help 50 countries across the region: 1) set and act upon clear and ambitious climate targets; 2) access adaptation trainings and education toolkits, communications products, and thought leadership; and 3) access the vast climate financing already available. Communities will benefit directly through increased education, communication, knowledge sharing, and improved regulation and policy that protect their natural resources, rebuild ecosystems that protect them from climate change impacts, and secure food sources, as well as improved livelihood. The global population will benefit indirectly through such a large region working collectively to embrace solutions to climate change. We will know we are making progress when new policies and nature based adaptation measures are enacted and implemented, and recognized as a gold standard for other regions seeking to address and adapt to climate impacts at scale.

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