Faith-based organizations and various non-governmental organizations have been challenged to design innovative ideas towards protecting our environment from the impacts of climate change.

His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailaitkau raised the challenge during Fiji’s first National Faith-Based Environment Stewardship Summit held in Sigatoka on April 2nd.

“The global environment is in a crisis. The messages are clear. Climate change is a reality. It is humanity’s greatest challenge today,” Ratu Epeli said.

“There is a critical worrying trend of biodiversity loss across the planet. The accelerating predominance of invasive species is becoming a real concern.”

Fiji has experienced the ravages of climate change and these include storm and wave surges flash flood devastation, excessive soil loss and riverbanks erosion, “talasiga” fires and biodiversity loss due to industrial pollution.

“These ‘negative values’ are propelling us towards an ever greater damage to our environment and all that depend on it,” Ratu Epeli said.

“However, we need to change our mindset towards the impacts of climate change and work together to address this issue at community level.

“We need bold and decisive transformational changes in the way we conduct ourselves. We need to deliver using innovative integrated approaches that are science-based; which are being successfully trialled and piloted.”

The President has encouraged participants to work together to protect Fiji’s fragile environment, conserve its threatened biodiversity and strive to utilize its resources sustainably.

“This is now the time that we have to be serious about being more committed stewards and guardians of Fiji’s environment,” Ratu Epeli said.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Local Government and Environment Colonel Samuela Saumatua shared similar sentiments on how climate change has impacted our region and country.

“In Fiji the sense of complacency has allowed climate change to seriously affect our islands, lack of urgency will sentence our future generation to much difficulties to much difficulties and even life threatening situations,” the minister said.

Colonel Saumatua said Government was already working towards the relocation of two of the coastal villages because of sea-level rise and coastal erosion.

“We need to look at education for awareness and the future generation and secondly a need for action to remedy the environmental damage already done,” he said.

The minister encouraged participants to focus on the outcomes of the summit that will pave the way forward in addressing climate change and how the various organizations could draw up mitigation and adaptation plans to tackle climate change.