Understanding how Indigenous knowledge and traditional adaptation techniques have enabled Pacific Island communities to adapt to environmental change is vital to the success of future adaptation. The survivability of these communities through traditional methods is threatened by the current rate of environmental change, highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary initiatives which combine traditional and scientific knowledge. By means of 14 participatory mapping sessions and 30 semi-structured interviews, this thesis explores the role of physical and social vulnerability on hazard impacts and how these factors, when combined with human perceptions, link to adaptation in four multiple-risk settlements in Ba, Fiji. This research finds that the causes of environmental change were often viewed to be external to the community, and fatalistic views were widespread. These factors can prevent meaningful local adaptation despite accurate perceptions of the changing weather patterns. Adaptation in multiple riskcommunities was identified as being particularly difficult as the community is forced to prioritise one hazard over another. Furthermore, whilst local people identified rapid onset events such as cyclones and floods to be the most harmful, this paper argues that the effects of these hazards could be eclipsed by prolonged drought periods for which adaptation strategies are limited.
This thesis concurs with work by Ellis (2010)that a key factor to increase the resilience of a community is the diversification of income sources, further factors include the acknowledgement of vulnerable sub-groups and the importance of preparation. Physical vulnerabilityis noted to be changing with environmental change. For example, three of the four communities discussed the experience of migration; in two instances this was an emergency decision resulting in their migration into a position of similar vulnerability. Whilst the literature habituallyclassifies migration as a last resort option, I contend that migration as adaptation should be considered as an option early in the adaptation process to enable sufficient planning, thus reducing physica vulnerability and impacts on the community.