Attendees to the workshop on Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development. Photo: Government of Fiji

Attendees to the workshop on Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development. Photo: Government of Fiji .

Fiji’s pursuit of economic prosperity and equality hinges on the expansion of its agriculture and tourism sectors. However, the path to integrated, low-emission and climate-resilient growth presents a significant challenge. Aiming to address this, The University of Fiji and SEI conducted a workshop titled “Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development.” This workshop aimed to facilitate the implementation of climate goals and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in both sectors, while concurrently working to reduce inequality in Fiji.

The workshop convened decision-makers, NGOs, private sector representatives, community advocates and academics to discuss role of policy coherence in implementing climate and sustainable development goals as part of the ClimEQ project.

Broadening perspectives for policymaking in Fiji’s tourism and agriculture sectors

Fiji susceptibility to external shocks and the impacts of climate change has resulted in numerous policy challenges, particularly within its key economic sectors: tourism and agriculture.

The interaction between these sectors is intricate, characterised by a multi-stakeholder process entangled with conflicting interests. For example, the tourism industry’s usage of domestic agriculture products is minimal, which suggests a possible lack of trust in Fiji’s capacity to produce these goods domestically. This lack of use is underscored by the fact that nearly 70% of the country’s agricultural potential remains untapped.

The workshop, organized by The University of Fiji in collaboration with SEI, sought to address these issues, jointly developing policy recommendations to improve the synergy between the agriculture and tourism sectors. The workshop also offered a platform participants to discuss how these two sectors can continue to be Fiji’s economic engine while maintaining commitment to climate change mitigation and sustainable development.

Research Fellow at SEI, Adis Dzebo, introducing the role of policy coherence at the policy workshop in Suva, Fiji.

Research Fellow at SEI, Adis Dzebo, introducing the role of policy coherence at the policy workshop in Suva, Fiji. Photo: Government of Fiji .

“The strong interest by the Fijian government in policy coherence, evidenced by the large workshop turnout, indicates that maximizing synergy between these key sectors is a high priority. However, this interest must translate into coherent implementation and address potential negative policy outcomes, particularly concerning inequality.”

— Adis Dzebo, Research Fellow at SEI

Stakeholder involvement for the enhancement of tourism and agriculture in Fiji 

In the past two decades, the tourism sector’s increased prominence has resulted in a decline in the sugarcane industry and agricultural sector more widely.

The sugar industry, a mainstay of the Fijian economy for over a century, has seen declining production over the past 15 years due to ageing farmers, a lack of incentives for new-generation farmers, deteriorating soil quality, inadequate policies for the sugar industry and land lease complications.

Challenges relating to production, supply and storage persist, despite efforts to promote both the agriculture and tourism sectors. Hotels and resorts often find it difficult to source local produce due to seasonal fluctuations, inconsistent supply, poor product quality and substandard food safety protocols. These factors continue to hinder the agricultural sector’s progress.

These issues underscored the need for the workshop, which aimed to foster greater integration among government agencies and encourage more active involvement from farming communities and the private sector in decision-making processes.

“The participants made a stronger call for a holistic, and people-centered approach to ensure sustainable development of the agriculture and tourism sectors.”

— Priyatma Singh, Lecturer and Project Manager at The University of Fiji

Charting a sustainable and economically prosperous path for Fiji

A key point emphasized during the workshop was the need for improved coordination among government agencies. Discussions primarily focused on enhancing horizontal integration, ensuring that Ministries align their strategic priorities and collaborate effectively to address these issues within the agriculture and tourism sectors and beyond, including energy, transportation and town and country planning.

Participants recognized that Fiji’s efforts to increase the participation women and youths in the agricultural sector has not yet achieved the desired impact. A strong emphasis was placed on the need for gender disaggregated data, which can provide a clearer picture of the current scenario and where interventions are needed.

Furthermore, they suggested creating a more inclusive environment that encourages women and youth entrepreneurship, particularly in the agriculture sector. By doing so, we not only foster sustainable development but also nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs that can drive the sector forward.

Sugar cane fields, behind the Nausori Highlands, Korovuto, Viti Levu, Fiji

Sugar cane fields behind the Nausori Highlands, Korovuto, Viti Levu, Fiji. Photo: Martina Katz / Getty Images .