Conversation around Climate Change and Tourism in the Pacific Islands: Christina Leala-Gale, Sustainability Manager for Pacific Tourism Organisation Shares Her Perspective
You may have attended ATTA’s recent webinar Meet the Experts: Climate Change & Tourism in the Pacific Islands – What Travel Businesses Can Do To Help with a lively discussion that included climate impacts in the Pacific Islands, the Glasgow Declaration, how to set up a Climate Action plan in your business, carbon removal, and local solutions. If you missed it, watch the full webinar here.
This article shares key takeaways from Christina Leala-Gale, Sustainability Manager for Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO). SPTO is an intergovernmental regional organization supporting 20 Pacific Island member countries through policy interventions and projects on the ground to support their transition towards sustainability.
Q: Looking at the 20 Pacific Islands, what aspects of climate are affecting people working in travel and tourism in your region?
A: We are racing against time, there is so much to be done but with very little time, and the urgency is there for the Pacific Islands and for the whole world to contribute in addressing these issues is very important.
In our region coastal erosion is affecting livelihoods as our beautiful beaches are in danger of being lost. There is limited access to renewable and clean energy due to the high costs involved. In addition, capacity development is a major issue, especially as it relates to infrastructure and technology.
Q: What practical programs have you been setting up locally?
A: Our organization has been very focused on helping build on indigenous values with projects that engage people in traditional ways alongside new skills. For example, we have an initiative with plastic, teaching and encouraging youth and people with disabilities to create and sell handicrafts from recycled plastic that reflect our local culture.
We are especially very focused on womens’ empowerment, purposely engaging with women in communities in making jewelry and learning new skills.
Q: What does community resilience look like in the Pacific Islands?
A: The Pacific Islands are connected by the ocean–we say we are many but we are one. Community starts with each of us, and the power of partnership and collaboration is being used in Climate Action. Resilience is starting with love and respect for nature. Resilience is also synonymous with survival and keeping emissions low in order to maintain just 1.5 degrees of warming.