Located in the southwest Indian Ocean, the small volcanic island of Rodrigues is surrounded by an extensive coral reef platform that is recognised as a global biodiversity hotspot and supports rich marine habitats full of endemic species. As part of the Republic of Mauritius - known as a top tourist destination for its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters - Rodrigues has an economy still heavily dependent on agriculture, livestock farming, and fishing, with over one third of its workforce employed by these sectors. However, severe droughts make agriculture a challenge on the island, while local fishers have observed a 75 per cent decrease in octopus and reef fish catches in the past decade.
“Due to climate change, pollution and over-fishing, our lagoon fish catch has been on the decline”, says Rogers, president of the Baie du Nord village, on the north coast of Rodrigues. Since most of the traditional fishing village’s 350 residents depend on the ocean for food and livelihoods, this has put a strain on their household earnings. Climate change disproportionately affects Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and vulnerable local communities such as Baie du Nord. Droughts, unpredictable storms and flooding, degradation of coral reefs, and sea level rise are just some of the consequences of climate change experienced by SIDS. These not only affect the natural environment, but also have ripple effects on every sector of the economy and society. Healthy ecosystems that are resilient to climate change and stressors are not only critical to securing environmental benefits, but also serve as the foundation for economic and human development.
This is where an approach called community-based adaptation (CBA) comes into play: it is a locally led process that aims to reduce the vulnerability and improve the adaptive capacity of communities to current and future climate change impacts, based on their specific environmental, economic, social and cultural contexts. Since 2009, with support from the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (SGP), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme, local communities have been investing in climate change adaptation and resilience-building with dedicated funding from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). DFAT has been a key partner and has funded CBA projects in 41 countries, including SIDS in the Pacific, Caribbean, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
In 2015, the SGP partnered with the Shoals Rodrigues Association to implement a CBA project to help the fishing-dependent community of Baie du Nord adapt to climate change. Read the full story here.