AS Fiji and other Pacific countries look for funds to relocate communities vulnerable to rising sea levels, New York City is already responding with a multi-billion dollar coastline protection approach.
The starkly different strategies undertaken indicate one thing — climate change mitigation by various countries will rely heavily on available funding.
NYC's "no retreat from the waterfront" approach will result in the investment of $US20billion ($F37b) in 257 resilience initiatives over a period of 10 years. Of this amount, $US4bn ($F7.4b) has been earmarked for coastline protection.
This, despite the grim forecast of scientists who as recently as this week, through the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said climate change was real and sea levels would continue to rise.
Seth Pinsky, a former director of the city's Special Initiative for Building Resilience, said the plans demonstrated the importance of taking proactive action immediately, positioning New York State as a model for resilience across the US and around the world.
He said the long-term plan was to deal with the sustainability of the city and the coastline protection plan was "dealing incrementally with a problem" that has been projected as a one in 70 years occurrence.
In October last year Superstorm Sandy left a trail of devastation and more than 101 dead — 43 in NYC — as it moved from the Caribbean to America's East Coast. There was a record power outage and epic flooding.
Millions were affected and Manhattan was shut off from the rest of the world with nearly all bridges and tunnels to the outlying boroughs and to New Jersey shut down.
Mr Pinsky said 68,000 buildings were in the flood plain.
"We believe there is not a single silver bullet, we need multiple layers of defence, we accept that no human defence can survive nature's attack but we need to bounce back," Mr Pinsky said, stressing that NYC has faced significant tests in the past — such as the September 11 attack and the Lehman Brothers collapse — but bounced right back.
"We need to rebuild in a way that's smarter and safer. Moving thousands of people is unrealistic. Also, the predictions are over several years and we don't know for sure what will happen then but this is what we can do now.
"We live in a world of limited resources but we need to maximise on what we have, we need to look at the costs and the benefits."
According to the IPCC report, the warming of the climate system is unequivocal and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.
"The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased."
In Fiji, at least 646 communities have been identified as vulnerable to climate change and in need of immediate assistance.
Manasa Katonivualiku, Climate Change Unit project co-ordinator, revealed a few months ago only 143 climate change projects were in place.
According to CCU director Esala Nayasi, relocation was critical as water was literally hitting the walls of village homes and turning village greens into mini-lagoons.
He said 34 villages had been identified for relocation per the next five to 10 years, adding that it is a costly exercise.
In one village alone, excavation had cost $200,000.
Fiji is seeking ways to access funds for climate change adaptation and is presently on the verge of launching a relocation guideline to assist line ministries with moving communities away from natural disaster prone areas.