Cities and climate change in the South Pacific
UNEP is working with UN-HABITAT, SPREP and the Lami Town Council to design and implement an ecosystem-based adaptation strategy for the coastal town of Lami in Fiji. Lami is a town on the southeast coast of the island of Viti Levu with a population of approximately 21,000. It is highly vulnerably to climate change threats such as erosion and flooding. In order to protect the population of Lami from these threats, a variety of approaches were analyzed and the analysis is being used to determine the town's strategy with the local and national Governments.
The first step analyzed the vulnerability of the town to changes in climate. The major threats identified were flash flooding from the three rivers that flow through Lami, surface flooding from high rainfall, coastal flooding from storm surges, shoreline erosion, riverbank erosion and upslope erosion. Informal settlements, the Central Business District and the industrial area were among the areas found to be most vulnerable to these threats. The natural protective resources available are mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass and mudflats, all threatened by anthropogenic activities. The next step was to analyze the costs and benefits of a range of adaptation options available to the town, comparing ecosystem-based approaches such as mangrove restoration to engineering-based approaches such as building a seawall. The analysis found that ecosystem-based approaches were the most cost-effective, providing various additional benefits from ecosystem services, and recommends a combined approach using some engineering options to protect some of the higher value priority infrastructure.
UN-HABITAT is currently working with the Lami Town Council and with WWF in order to implement some of the recommendations on ecosystem-based adaptation in Lami; and is working with UNEP to upscale these recommendations on adaptation to climate change to the national Government of Fiji and other Governments in the region.
For more information, please contact:
Gabriel Grimsditch, Programme Officer for the Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems Branch (UNEP)