Resilience in the face of uncertainty critical for Pacific youth


Director Andrew Jones, Geoscience, Energy and Maritime (GEM) Division, the Pacific Community (SPC)

Inherent in our work within the development sector, our GEM Division team here at SPC genuinely strive towards supporting a more resilient Pacific region but what does resilience really mean in all its forms?

Our region is facing an era of increasing disaster risk. This means increased intensity of climate related disasters such as cyclones, droughts and flooding. It also means increased frequency of these disasters and the impact this will have on future generations.

Recent research from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) shows as our climate is warming some groups of young people are becoming less resilient. The research focused on students in the United States which showed young people today are less resilient than previous generations.

One theory on why this is happening is related to how parenting styles have changed over time: “Just as shielding children from has arguably weakened their immune systems, it may be that efforts to shield children from unpredictable environments has resulted in them being less resilient adults.”

A second theory is that the increasing uptake of technology by recent generations has reduced our exposure to uncertainty. Google Maps, for example, means we never get lost anymore. We know exactly which route to take and how long it will take us to get there. “By steadily reducing our exposure to “everyday” ambiguity, technology has compromised our ability to manage uncertainty when it arises.”

Pacific peoples are amongst the most resilient in the world. Through traditional knowledge and practices, they have voyaged over unfathomable oceans distances in their canoes to inhabit small island environments in some of the most hazardous places on the planet. It is our Pacific youth who will be the front line for the planet’s climate crisis; we need to do everything we can to ensure they have the same resilience as their ancestors.

To ensure the Pacific region is equipped and genuinely resilient to the threat of climate change, we must support and work alongside our young people for they will be the ones that face the reality of sea-level rise and more intense and frequent disasters but they will also be the future generations create and drive the solutions towards a resilient Pacific amidst the climate crisis we face.

Therefore, equipping future generations and establishing strong career pathways to build a more resilient Pacific to the threats we face is a critical step in supporting effective sustainable development and a future for our Pacific region.

This is why it was a great pleasure to represent our Pacific Technical and Vocational Education and Training on Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Adaptation Project in the handing over of key resilience tools and equipment this week to Fiji’s Ministry of Youth. These tools provide the equipment required for young people to get involved with understanding their environment and the planetary changes happening around them.

The PacTVET project has also developed certificates in sustainable energy and climate change which is equipping youths and Pacific people with the tools we need to address the challenges we face and those we will face into the future.

We have significant opportunities to not only equip and support future generations but to help drive career pathways for our region that shifts towards innovative sectors such as renewable energy or sustainable ocean economies.

This work was made possible due to the work of our SPC PacTVET team in partnership with our wonderful partners in the European Union and GIZ, who have been made some of the most meaningful and significant investments in the climate change and sustainable energy sectors in the Pacific in recent years. The Pacific would be a darker place without partners like these.