DevNet 2020 Conference Award Kim Kessler

DevNet 2020 Conference Awards: Kim Kessler was awarded best PhD presentation.

DevNet 2020 Conference

The Aotearoa New Zealand International Development Studies Network (DevNet) 2020 Conference is on at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Climate Change and Polar Research: OCCNet and PERT joint symposium 2019

This is a joint research symposium between the Polar Environments Research Theme and the Otago Climate Change Network, which will bring together researchers from multiple disciplines to share and discuss current research. We will have two sessions, one on polar research, and another on research related to climate change, open to all divisions and disciplines. There will also be a poster session. (Source: https://events.humanitix.co.nz)

There will be a session on ‘Climate Change in the Pacific’.

Date: 15 October 2019, 8.30am – 5pm

Location: Dunedin Public Art Gallery

Registration here.

 

 

Vanuatu Plastic Ban

Vanuatu was reported to become the first country in the world to legally ban plastic straws. Since 1 July 2018, it is officially an offence in Vanuatu to sell single use plastic shopping bags, plastic drinking straws and polystyrene boxes. Manufacturing or giving away of these products are also illegal.

The Government’s decision to ban these items was supported by data from litter clean-ups conducted by the Vanuatu Environmental Science Society (VESS) and the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation. Since 2015, a considerable amount of plastic bags and polystyrene take away containers have been collected around Efate Island. The high record of plastics greatly impacts the marine life and destroys the environment.

Malapoa College Students at the Seafront Litter Clean Up and Survey in Port Vila (VESS, June 2017)

Raising Awareness

The Prime Minister announced on Independence Day 2017 that the Government intended to ban single use plastics. In January 2018, the regulation was announced with the ban coming into effect in July 2018.

The information about the ban immediately spread through news reports in the local media. Further, awareness was raised through social media and radio and television interviews conducted in Port Vila. The Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation distributed posters, information booklets, pamphlets and stickers about the ban to communities in urban areas and across the outer islands of Vanuatu. Primary and Secondary Schools in Vanuatu also participated in a singing competition on plastic ban just before the ban became effective.

VESS in collaboration with ‘No Plastik Bag, Plis’ organised a plastic exhibition held in Port Vila. The exhibition aimed to raise awareness on the impacts of plastics on the environment, particularly the impact on the marine life. Information about the ban was put up at the exhibition. This made people became aware of the plastic ban. Also, visitors who came to the exhibition made their pledge to stop using plastic bags.

With assistance provided by non-governmental organisations, environmental leaders on the outer islands of Vanuatu who had many experiences in promoting awareness on resource management issues as well as ensuring sustainability of natural resources spoke to their community leaders, community members and to shop keepers about the ban. Around Vanuatu, information about the ban also spread from one individual to another.

Plastic Ban Poster at an Outer Island in Vanuatu (VESS, 2018)
No Plastic Pledge in Port Vila (VESS, June 2018)

Enhanced Livelihoods

The decision about the ban already has a positive impact on people’s livelihood. It provides a greater opportunity for locals to revive traditionally woven baskets and to utilize local materials to contain food and beverages. The uniqueness of the local baskets not only signifies identity, culture and pride but most importantly shows people around the world that locals care for their land and marine environment.

Traditional Baskets presented by ‘Mamas’ (Haos Blong Handikraft, 2019)
Traditional Baskets presented by ‘Mamas’ (Haos Blong Handikraft, 2019)

The Port Vila handicraft market is the best place where anyone can find amazing and creative local handicrafts. Weavers at the handicraft market, known around the country as “Mamas”, use Pandanus fronds and leaves of a local palm-like tree to create different styles of traditional island baskets. The selling of these local items not only provides income to Vanuatu, but promotes Vanuatu as a clean, safe and happy destination to tourists as well as locals.

VESS and other non-governmental organisations supported the public by providing calico eco-bags. These bags are imported but are designed and printed in Vanuatu.

Calico Eco Bags by the Vanuatu Environmental Science Society (VESS, 2018)

It was a bit hard to change the mentality of the people to use traditional baskets instead of plastic bags. However, people have adjusted to the new law. They are now using all sorts of local baskets to transport their goods or when they do their shopping. In the main urban areas, many locals carry local bags with them.

Implementation Challenges

According to the pollution section in the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation, 80 to 90 percent of companies or businesses complied with the new regulation. Yet about 10 to 20 percent are still using plastics in the country illegally. Some local people and some small local business owners do complain for not using plastics anymore, but as months have gone by they managed to use alternatives. VESS has analysed litter data collected in September 2018. They identified that there was a drop in the number of these banned plastic items.

Continuing Non-Plastic Trend

Vanuatu is known for its beautiful beaches, spectacular reefs and clear waters. The plastic ban means visitors can appreciate the attractiveness of the islands without seeing lots of plastic pollution. During some environmental workshops conducted around the islands of Vanuatu, people say the ban has brought a positive change in their communities. It is cleaner than in the past and it gives the chance for the marine life to survive.

The Government is now looking at the second proposed ban on a set of single-use plastic items. This includes all plastic packaging of fruits and vegetables for retail sale; forks, knives spoons, plates and cups designed for single use; stirrers/swizzle sticks; disposable nappies for babies; and artificial flowers.

About the Author
Martika Tahi is a Project Officer with the Vanuatu Environmental Science Society.
She is a Vanuatu national and holds a BA in Environmental Studies from USP.

Fiji Elections 2018

As the writ of election was announced today, the Fiji Elections Office (FEO) will close voter registration today at 6pm.

Until the very last minute, a great number of Fijians used the final opportunity to register, update their details, or get their lost voter ID cards replaced:

Fiji Elections 2018, FEO Station in Suva, 1 Oktober 2018, 5:30pm (photo taken by Kim Andreas Kessler)

 

Fiji: General Elections on 14 November 2018

Fiji’s President, Mr. Jioji Konrote, issued the writ for election this morning.

General election will be held on 14 November 2018.

Eight political parties are registered and eligible to contest. These are:

  1. Fiji First
  2. Fiji Labour Party
  3. Freedom Alliance Party
  4. Hope Party
  5. National Federation Party
  6. Peoples Democratic Party
  7. Social Democratic Liberal Party
  8. Unity Fiji Part

Party candidates must be nominated by 12pm on 15 October 2018.

Fiji National Flag (Source: Worldatlas 2016)

NZ Ranked Top for Aid Quality

The Center for Global Development released its Commitment to Development Index (CDI) 2018. The Index covers 27 of the world’s richest countries and measures their support to poorer nations.

Overall, Sweden ranks first, followed by Denmark. Finland and Germany share the third place. New Zealand is ranked thirteenth, followed by Australia. Switzerland is ranked in the lowest third of the list while South Korea is at the very bottom.

The aid component of the index ranks New Zealand fourth and Australia ninth. New Zealand is ranked on top of the 27 countries in terms of aid quality. As announced in August by the Lowy Institute, Australia is by far the most significant aid donor to the Pacific region in terms of quantity.

More information on the CDI

More information on the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Aid Map

 

Marshall Islands: Zero Emissions by 2050

The Marshall Islands announced its commitment to cut greenhouse emissions to zero by 2050. The atoll-nation is the very first Pacific island state making such an ambitions announcement.

The shipping industry poses the main challenge to achieve this commitment. Shipping is known as one of the world’s biggest polluting industries.

In the Marshall Islands, like in many Pacific island states, shipping is often referred to as the ‘lifeline’ of islands remotely located from larger markets.

Cargo Ship in the Cook Islands, 2016