The need to protect Fiji's GSR
Mr Ralifo said that at the current way of business as usual, our fisheries production would not be able to provide the 60 per cent more fish needed in 2030, leading to the possibility of severe food insecurity for Pacific Island countries in the near future.
He said overfishing, pollution, unsustainable agriculture, forestry, tourism, habitat loss (mangroves, coastal forests, seagrass), exacerbated by climate change - sea surface temperature increase, ocean acidification and cyclones were some of the challenges faced by Pacific islanders when it comes to food security.
Fortunately for Fiji he says the Great Sea Reef (GSR) is an essential natural resource that provides 65 per cent of foreign exchange earnings, namely, tourism and fisheries and key to Fiji's national economy.
Located along the Northern shore of Vanua Levu the GSR is the third-longest continuous reef system in the world, is highly integrated and forms the basis of a major coral reef ecosystem playing a major role in climate resilience and economic well-being to 360,000 Fijians (40 per cent of the total population) in the provinces that directly depend on it for food, income, and protection from natural disasters.
"The GSR in Vanua Levu is fortunately among the top 50 of more resilient reefs globally to the impacts of climate change," Mr Ralifo said.
"In addition to the changing climate's impacts on sea temperature and acidity, rising sea levels combined with a predicted increase in the frequency and intensity of typhoons threatens the safety and property of coastal communities and businesses, especially tourism and transportation infrastructure."
Thanks to healthy reefs he said impacts of wave breaks and storm surges would be greatly reduced.
"If wisely managed, this reef can play an important role not only for climate resiliency gains by the country's vulnerable population that depends on it for livelihoods and protection, but it can also help regenerate coral reefs in the country and Pacific region once the global climate and sea temperature rise has been stabilised."
Mr Ralifo added that WWF Pacific is working with government, communities and relevant stakeholders along Fiji's Great Sea Reef to ensure that the entire GSR land and seascape are sustainably managed, used and protected so that it could continue to sustain Fiji's people, the economy and ensure resilience to impacts of climate change.
Moving forward he said the country should develop a new business model and a new way of doing things where all sectors must change from business as usual to a more sustainable and regenerative way of doing things.
Here are some useful tips on how to protect our resources:
Agriculture - shift towards organic and agroforestry
Forestry - enforce sustainable forestry
Fisheries - ensure sustainable fisheries and establish marine protected areas, Mangrove protected areas.
Tourism - promote sustainable tourism, eco-tourism and avoid building resorts in areas where mangroves and coastal forests are still intact and support local small scale business that are sustainable.
Habitat restoration - forests, river banks, sea grass beds use nature based solutions to address a lot of our national problems - cost effective and are more regenerative and sustainable in the long run.
Put a halt to habitat loss and species extinction, address waste and pollution problems and promote circular economy.
Strengthen enforcement and compliance.
Remove pervasive subsidies and incentives best practices.
Ensure effective collaboration and partnership across all sectors and all levels of stakeholders.
Strong synergies and integration with clear and regular communications across all sectoral plans, policies and legislations.
Ensure fair, just and equitable returns of benefits along supply chains right up to grass-root communities.
Good governance, transparency is also critical across all sectors and levels from government up to communities including equal and fair participation of women, youth, people with disabilities and all other vulnerable groups of society.
This is only possible through multi stakeholder multi partnership approach.