CLIMATE change is obviously a big threat to the Pacific islands and that?s something that should be in the forefront of our reflection, says Herve Damlamian, a senior specialist oceanographic at the Pacific Community (SPC).
And while understanding the impacts of climate change is important, Mr Damlamian said it was also crucial that people gained a better understanding of climate variability as the driver of coastal impact to support sustainable development.
"Sustainable development is also about better understanding and preserving natural processes, through technical assessment based on reliable data," he said while speaking at the second session of the University of Fiji's COP23 awareness seminar series yesterday.
"One of SPC's role as a technical organisation is to provide scientifically sound information to support decision-making process in countries, in turn supporting sustainable development."
He said climate change was adding onto the problems associated with beach mining, near chore dredging among other issues.
"We know climate change could potentially increase erosion impact but on the other hand, people undertake beach mining, near shore dredging, adhoc coastal engineering solution and other similar practices that are weakening our beaches and driving erosion.
"Hence, we really need to tackle those issues first so we can become resilient to the impacts of climate change."
He added climate change could increase inundation and add to the current vulnerability of beaches.
"At the outset, we have to better plan mitigation solution. To do so, we first need to better understand local hazard and the risk community are facing and will face in the future due to climate change.
"Based on scientific information, adequate mitigation solution can be designed such as soft coastal protection options, establishing building codes, managed retreat and in some cases well designed coastal engineering solution."
The seminar was organised by the School of Science and Technology at the University of Fiji in line with the university's monthly awareness campaign towards the COP23 meeting in November.
UniFiji is expected to host its third seminar session also leading up to the United Nations Ocean Conference in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Development Forum Secretariat (PIDF) on May 19.