Group picture after Tuvalu side event
Climate Change Resilience

30 November 2023, Dubai, UAE – The importance of traditional and indigenous knowledge in building resilience in Tokelau was highlighted during a side event on the first day of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 28th Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

The side event was held at the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion, a Pacific partnership between the Governments of Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, and managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). 

At the start of the side event, the Ulu o Tokelau, Hon. Kelihiano Kalolo, who is also Minister of Climate Change, welcomed the attendees by stating that since it was an event about Traditional Knowledge, it was only fitting that he starts with a traditional Tokelauan prayer. 

He spoke of the importance of traditional knowledge to the Tokelauan people, as their ancestors have been observing the interaction between elements and how they impact marine and land organisms as a way of adapting to the changing climate and building resilience their country’s resilience. 

This work was further elaborated on by the Tokelau Legal Officer, Mr Romero Viane, who showcased some of the ways in which Traditional Knowledge is being utilised in Tokelau. 

“Traditional knowledge is being used for environmental observations, with communities and their observations skills to detect changes in weather patterns and behaviours or changes in natural cycles providing early indication of climate change.”

“Through traditional knowledge, we also have indigenous weather forecasting, which includes cultural methods of weather forecasting using traditional indicators such as cloud formations and wind patterns to predict changes in climate and weather.” 

“We also have water management techniques which consist of knowledge on how to address challenges posed by changing precipitation patterns, as well as sustainable resource management which include traditional practices on fishing, hunting, and gathering that maintain the health of ecosystems and contribute to climate resilience.” 

“In Tokelau, we have a sustainable fishing practice called the inati, which ensures that everyone gets a fair share and that no one is left without the basic necessities of life.” 

“We also have adapted agricultural practices that conserve specific crop varieties and traditional farming techniques that will enhance resilience to climate variability,” he added. 

Mr Viane also introduced a documentary called Vaka, which was created through a collaboration between the Government of Tokelau, the Aotearoa New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Massey University. 

The documentary showcases Tokelau’s resilience, touching on how its people use traditional knowledge regarding environment, together with eco-technologies to respond to climate change. 

Climate Change Ambassador for New Zealand, Her Excellency Kay Harrison said, “Tradition and traditional knowledge are often mischaracterised, and often pitted against, science.” 

“At COP28, we are bringing together indigenous peoples with scientists and their analysis and for each of us, they are an avenue into the conversation about what is happening to our planet and what we have done to it.” 

She concluded with a Maori proverb, “Nau terourou, naku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi.” 

“That means, with your contributions and my contributions – with the contributions of science, traditional knowledge, and faith, we can indeed collaborate as humanity in an unprecedented way to bring us safely into the future,” she concluded. 

The Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion at COP28 is a Pacific partnership with Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

The Pavilion was featured at the twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change hosted in Dubai, UAE from 30 November – 12 December 2023.
To learn more about the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion please visit: