The Search for Legal Remedies
Edited by Randall S. Abate and Elizabeth Ann Kronk
Chapter 17: Fiji: climate change, tradition and Vanua
Fiji is the fourth largest nation of the twenty-two pacific island nations, and has two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, which together with its smaller islands total 18,272 square kilometers. The islands are mountainous and of volcanic origin, making up 87 per cent of the surface area. The islands have a diverse range of ecosystems, and the climate is in a zone classified with high rainfall, and often-severe tropical cyclones. Although 87 per cent of the surface is mountainous, 90 per cent of the population lives in coastal areas, both urban and rural, where the impacts of sea level rise and extreme weather events can be the most destructive. Fiji was the first nation to sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, and is a member of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group of nations that share common threats such as sea-level rise and extreme weather event vulnerability and form a political alliance in climate negotiations. The Republic of Fiji Islands (hereinafter Fiji) has maintained one of the most institutionalized traditional legal systems among the Pacific Island nations, in that the cultural system of managing the environment, unlike other indigenous systems of environmental management in the South Pacific, has been adopted in the Fiji Environment Act as an enforceable system of environmental law in the dominant legal system in addition to the cultural pressure of compliance.
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