The Fiji Ecovillage Transition Project (ETP) is an initiative by GENOA and GEN Australia, to engage and activate the ecovillage network of Fiji and to assist traditional villages and informal settlements in the transition towards ecovillage. We acknowledge and respect that many Pacific Island communities are already strong in many aspects, and our role is to facilitate space for them to see and appreciate this, value their strengths, and find leverage points to improve their resilience in the face of climate change.
The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and particularly the Global Ecovillage Network Oceania and Asia (GENOA) recognizes traditional villages as ‘ecovillages’ alongside urban and intentional communities of the more developed world. GENOA has in the last fifteen years been working within several countries in using the ecovillage principles within traditional villages in their development to ensure that these villages remain ecovillages in times of rapid change. Ecovillage is a process not an outcome, with four areas of regeneration (social, ecology, culture and economy, integrating into a whole systems design) that guide the pathways to design, training and implementation.
By retaining practices that ensure the ecological, cultural and social fabric of the traditional village remain while embracing technology, economic markets and global connections the village can remain in balance with its natural environment and culture knowing they are resilient while entering into the global diverse culture with its many opportunities.
Representatives from GEN Australia (Andrew Olivier and Shane Sylvanspring) and GENOA (Trudy Juriansz) traveled to Fiji at various times in 2019 to facilitate ecovillages workshops, network and develop relationships with various communities, businesses and local organisations, and to identify models of ‘ecovillage’ that already exist in the country. Through these visits, the team realised there is substantial enthusiasm in Ecovillage Transition in Fiji, from traditional villages, informal settlements, NGOs, government agencies, businesses and funders.
Impact of climate change in Fiji
The entire region of Fiji is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. The London School of Economics estimates that across the Pacific Islands, home to 10 million people, up to 1.7 million could be displaced due to climate change by 2050. Yet Fiji, like all Pacific Island states, faces challenges in fully implementing government policies due to limited technical, human resource and financial capacities.
Fiji’s volcanic islands include low-lying atolls, that are highly susceptible to cyclones and floods. Sea flooding is usually associated with the passage of tropical cyclones close to the coast. However, heavy swells, generated by deep depressions and/or intense high pressure systems some distance away from Fiji have also caused flooding to low-lying coastal areas.
Through the Fiji Ecovillage Transition Project, we have begun to engage and activate the ecovillage network of Fiji and to assist traditional villages and informal settlements in the transition towards ecovillage. The pilot communities identified are open and ready to learn, collaborate, design and implement. By collaborating with Fiji’s strong base of NGOs, projects and networks, there is a strong system of support for implementation. There is a strong need to engage and gain support from key government ministries, in order to address gaps between policy frameworks and implementation of solutions at the village level. With financial support, there is huge potential to scale up the Fiji Ecovillage Transition Project across the country and to other Pacific Islands. A key component is to have a local implementing partner who can ensure that ecovillage solutions continue to spread and have positive impact in the country. This is underway through partnerships that are being developed and strengthened, and with the emergence of a Fiji Ecovillage Network.