Working with nature to address societal issues

Wellbeing for Pacific peoples is communal, linked closely to the spiritual world, and is influenced by relationships with island and ocean environments, the plants and animals they share these ecologies with, the ecosystem services that these environments provide, as well as stars, weather patterns, and ocean currents (Carter, 2018; Bryant-Tokalau, 2018). Local definitions and models of wellbeing are dynamic and continually evolving. However, in Te Moananui Oceania, concepts of wellbeing are often place-based, emphasising the need for context-specific and nuanced understandings of wellbeing when working in the uniquely diverse Oceanic region. Pacific peoples’ understandings of wellbeing and identity tend to be grounded in relationships and collectivism (Lautua, 2023). Urban areas in Te Moananui Oceania are grappling with complex challenges stemming from rapid urbanisation and socio-economic inequalities, alongside significant climate and ecological pressures. In the guide, NbS are organised into the following six categories of key specific societal challenges in the region:

The United Nations highlights the importance of individual and communal wellbeing in people’s development (Yates et al., 2022). Yet wellbeing as articulated and measured in typical Western metrics tends to be individualistic. In contrast, a common thread running through the world’s diverse Indigenous populations is the collective nature of wellbeing (Durie, 1994). Indigenous concepts of wellbeing tend to recognise the interconnected relationships of people with ecosystems and biodiversity, especially related to ancestral lands, oceans and waterways, or specific animal species which Indigenous peoples often are connected to and depend upon for their collective flourishing (Durie, 1985). This is true across Te Moananui Oceania. 

Biodiversity conservation or regeneration, and climate change adaptation are societal issues of immense importance (Pedersen Zari et al., 2022). Because almost all NbS inherently focus on aspects of ecological regeneration and are frequently employed in climate adaptation planning, we have chosen not to list these two categories separately in this guide. We assume that nearly all of the 100 strategies outlined in the guide would fit into these categories. Similarly, all NbS by definition must have human wellbeing outcomes so while human health and wellbeing as well as economic and social development are also key societal challenges in Te  Moananui Oceania, we have left these categories out assuming that all NbS will contribute in some way to these challenges. Many NbS strategies address multiple societal challenges so various NbS occur across several different categories here. 

Read More

  • Bryant-Tokalau, J. (2018). Indigenous Pacific Approaches to Climate Change: Pacific Island countries. Cham: Springer.
  • Carter, L. (2018). Indigenous Pacific Approaches to Climate Change: Aotearoa/New Zealand. Cham: Springer.
  • Durie, M. (1994). Whaiaora—Māori health development. Auckland: Oxford University Press.
  • Lautua, T. (2023). A pacific qualitative methodology for the intersection of images of god, cultural identity and mental wellbeing. J. Pastor. Theol. 33, 171–188. 
  • Pedersen Zari, M., MacKinnon, M., Varshney, K., & Bakshi, N. (2022). Regenerative living cities and the urban climate–biodiversity–wellbeing nexus. Nature Climate Change, 12(7), 601-604.Yates, A., Dombroski, K., & Dionsio, R. (2022). Dialogues for wellbeing in an ecological emergency: Wellbeing-led governance frameworks and transformative Indigenous tools. Dialogues Hum. Geogr., 1–20.