APIA (Pacnews) The lone Pacific scientist on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Professor Patrick Nunn says the Pacific must recognise and accept that some places may not be habitable in 20 years time.
Painting a not so grim picture of the impact of climate change and rise in sea level, Professor Nunn, who was key note speaker at the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable underway in Apia, Samoa used Fiji's Nadi Town as an example of a town that will not exist in 20 years.
"In 2027, Nadi Town will be below sea level. It is unlikely that Nadi will ever attract the funds to enable the construction and maintenance of engineer structures necessary to preserve it.
"There is no other option but to relocate, Professor Nunn said.
He challenged the general perception that Nadi's frequent floods is caused by poor drainage and inadequate river dredging.
"Improving the drainage and dredging the river is only short-term solutions. What is happening in Nadi is that forests have been cleared upstream so water rapidly pours into the lowland when it rains.
"Nadi is built on a river delta and is sinking because of compaction similar to any other deltas everywhere in the world."
He said relocation may be an unthinkable option but must be 'accepted' as a long-term solution.
"Nobody wants to move to a new place do but there is no doubt that early action can considerably reduce the disruption that would have otherwise occur, Professor Nunn said.
He said the role of the media is crucial in creating awareness on the impacts of climate change on local coastal communities, especially those vulnerable to disappearing.
"The media needs to be educated to assist in promoting climate change. Key climate change messages must be disseminated in the vernacular languages."
The role of the church is also very crucial is informing and educating Pacific communities about climate change."
Professor Nunn said it was imperative local communities be empowered to be the driving agents of change.