CHC Researcher Receives Best Paper Award at World Symposium in Samoa

Dr Johannes Luetz, senior lecturer and post-graduate course co-ordinator in the School of Social Sciences and Chair of the Research Committee, showcased CHC at the “World Symposium on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies in Coastal Communities” held in Apia, Samoa, 5-7 July, 2017.

With over 100 participants from 23 countries, the Symposium was a truly international and interdisciplinary event, mobilising scholars, social movements, practitioners and members of governmental agencies, undertaking research and/or executing climate change projects in coastal areas and working with coastal communities. Cooperating organisations included the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the World Health Organisation (WHO); the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO); and the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP).

Dr Luetz’s area of expertise is climate change and sustainability, specifically the ways environmental change impacts societal structures in poor communities, including human relationships and networks.  Global warming is predicted to result in not only sea level rises but also an increase in the intensity of extreme weather events. Worldwide, the political response to natural disasters is to provide economic assistance to deal with acute crises such as lack of housing, food, water and electricity. Whilst these are important considerations, less attention is paid to the lingering impact of these disasters on human life which may include temporary or permanent displacement, broken social networks, psychological trauma, educational disruption, lack of occupational opportunities and resultant poor living conditions and economic hardship. This is particularly the case in countries of the developing world, which struggle severely to deal with the overwhelming social impact of events such as flooding and cyclones. As a Social Scientist, Dr Luetz aims to use research to make the world a better, safer and fairer place for all, especially poor and marginalised communities.

Dr Luetz’s paper, co-authored with Tongan Ph.D. researcher P.H. Havea, “We’re not Refugees, We’ll Stay Here Until We Die!”—Climate Change Adaptation and Migration Experiences Gathered from the Tulun and Nissan Atolls of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, drew on pilot research conducted on the Carteret Islands of Bougainville/Papua New Guinea (PNG). Recognising that it is imperative that policy makers rethink adaptation responses to extreme weather events, the paper provides several recommendations in the areas of education, livelihood security and future governmental planning.

The research paper was exceptionally well received, winning 1st Prize in the category Best Paper Award, received jointly with the co-author from the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji. The paper has since been published by Springer, one of the top five scientific publishers as a chapter in “Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies for Coastal Communities”.  This is a volume of the award-winning book series “Climate Change Management”, which since its creation in 2008 has become the world’s leading peer-reviewed book series on this topic.

Those interested in further information please contact Dr Luetz ( jluetz@chc.edu.au )