Fiji National University (FNU) academic, Sereima Baleisomi, believes higher education institutions play a crucial role in supporting the fight against activities that lead to climate change.
She also feels they play an important role in creating awareness around climate-related issues.
The FNU College of Humanities and Education (CHE) lecturer at the School of Education, made the comments as part of the ‘Climate-U Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate’ project funded by the University College London.
The project was coordinated by the then Dean for the College and current FNU Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba and provided her with the opportunity to work and engage with Government ministries like the Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, Ministry of Rural Development, NGOs like Youth for Integrity Fiji and religious groups such as the Catholic Church.
Baleisomi said a lot has been done and said in relation to climate change, its adaptation and mitigation strategy.
“In Fiji, the three universities were involved in this Climate-U project,” she said.
“The project had two major activities, firstly, we sought the university students’ perception of climate change, and this was done through a survey of all undergraduate students.
“The other part of the project, which was an impactful one, was the Participatory Action Research (PAR) where the project team worked with a community of their choice. FNU chose Nadaro Village, Tailevu as their community.”
She said this was because the village was inundated with water and was flooded every time it would rain.
“In their PAR, the FNU team sat with the community members to map out the strategies that they thought would help them mitigate climate-related challenges and in doing this we were tapping into their traditional ecological knowledge and some indigenous knowledge that was unique to the people,” she said.
She said the activities for the event ranged from meetings to workshops and even a field visit to a sustainable centre having multiple networking opportunities.
“I will be presenting the report of the PAR for our project site (Nadaro) and contributing to the Fiji Policy brief, which is a policy brief paper put together by the three universities,” Baleisomi added.
She added the UK trip was important for the school, the college and the FNU because it would provide opportunities for further research collaboration and networking.
Furthermore, she said it would also highlight the work FNU was doing that was aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals or climate-related research and there was a possibility of further research fundings or grants.
Baleisomi departed Fiji in early October.