Environmental degradation seriously concerns Fiji

Fiji’s Archbishop Peter Loy Chong says Fiji is facing several serious concerns caused by environmental degradation.

According to a report by the World Bank published in 2000, on the potential effects of climate change on the Pacific region, Fiji faces numerous risks.

These include:

  • higher rates of disease as average temperatures rise
  • increasingly destructive storms as oceans get warmer and weather patterns become more severe
  • disruptions to agriculture as the intrusion of saltwater damages existing farmland.

Speaking at Brisbane’s Australian Catholic University, Loy Chong said 40 years ago his grandfather rebuilt his house further up a hill in his village, after noticing gradual coastal erosion and the sea level rising.

Most of the houses have now moved uphill, he said.

However, not all environmental damage is a result of climate change, but is human-made, he added.

As an example, he says in 2016 a stone quarry company was established in Fiji, to extract gravel and rocks from a river.

Loy Chong said this operation is causing major damage to the environment, the river, the seacoast and sea life and is causing divisions among the local population.

Loy Chong said Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’: Care for Our Common Home, “clearly points out that the techno-economic paradigm and a misguided anthropology are the root causes of the ecological crisis.”

Noting the techno-economic paradigm refers to the link between the power of technology and economics that humans have over the natural world, Loy Chong continued:

“Human self-centeredness and technology have the ability to dominate and turn creation into a commodity. The techno-economic paradigm sees the earth only in terms of human utility and creation as an external object to be manipulated, mastered, and controlled.”

The Archdiocese of Suva’s response to Francis’s call for an integral ecology focuses on three areas:

  • empowering the voices of victims of climate change
  • taking a prophetic stand against industries that destroy the environment
  • using spiritual language.

“We plan to empower rural communities, villages and landowners through education and awareness programs on caring for the environment.”

This will enable them to bring “their voices into the center of climate change and care for the environment discussions and empower them to be the agents of their development and liberation.”

In addition, Caritas Fiji will make a study of companies that damage the environment and submit a report to the Fiji government to alert them on companies that damage the environment,” he said.


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