Improve engagement & reconnecting with our lands and waters…Adaptation Workshop Theme


                                  “To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.” African proverb

A huge shout out to EcoAdapt for facilitating four more Adaptation Workshops here in Hawai’i. One was on Oahu April 24th-25th, one on Molokai April 27th,  Kauai June 5th & 6th and we just finished up with the island of Hawai’i on June 13th & 14th. It is always great to see the positive interactions between the participants and the strong partnerships that already exist. It is rewarding to hear them share how much they appreciate this time to collaborate together and that more opportunities like this are needed.


A Kauai participant mentioned that “We all work in parallel organizations, side by side, but either due to the geography or communities we work in, we rarely intersect all in one place.”  Every organization has slightly different priorities, but overall they are all working to conserve our island home here in the Pacific. On Hawai’i Island, J. Rubey with Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture said, “We each come as one side of a crystal and together we are strong if we are interconnected.”  This was a common theme that emerged at most, if not all, of the islands was this fundamental need for a paradigm shift of working together on a landscape scale, rather than working within our arbitrary jurisdictions. “Our species do not recognize dotted lines on a map, nor should we.”


Participants reviewed the vulnerability assessments from the prior workshop and applied that knowledge to looking at their existing management plans to see if they could modify or add new actions to minimize vulnerabilities and increase resiliency from mauka to makai. They also looked at how to address future management goals & explored new strategies and/or techniques that agencies/organizations can adopt and apply these climate actions into their own work. They identified the need to apply the best available science to inform management decisions and ultimately policies, but agencies and organizations can’t do that alone. The participants brought together diverse perspectives and fresh ideas to help develop the framework of what efforts are necessary to build resilience on their islands.

IMG_0068ʿAkekeʿe (Credit: Lucas Behnke)Mt Ka'ala ohia lehuaIMG_0658

A theme that popped out on Kauai was the need for more education and outreach in regards to protecting their valued resources in terrestrial, aquatic, coastal, and marine environments. The need for place-based education and reconnecting people of all ages to the places that are important culturally. One idea was to bring back programs that were successful, like the Kilauea work days. Where families (ka’amina only) came together, pitched in to help restore the landscape. An opportunity for Aunties and Uncles, kapuna and neighbors telling stories along the way and teaching the next generation about species, habitats, and the resources that are central to their culture. Hawaiians for centuries have adapted and lived off these islands in sustainable ways, but a real need for creative ways to help inspire and impart that place matters. These practitioners from federal, state, county, non-profit organizations and groups identified that this responsibility can and should be shared across the island, but having overarching, consistent practices and slogans/campaigns would be extremely helpful.


Very similar on Hawai’i Island, this need to shift from impacts on habitats and empower communities to reconnect people to place, foster opportunities where relationships with the land and people are intimately intertwined. Emphasizing taking care of the aina should be a community driven process insuring authentic and integrity along the way. One strategy that they  focused on was becoming self reliant and caring for each other especially in regards to food reliance, water security, and energy. It would be a lifestyle change to get out of debt with offshore dependencies like buying food that has been shipped across the ocean and looking to invest in restoring sustainable agricultural practices such as field systems and other traditional ecological knowledge that could inform those who can shape our immediate future and also looking multiple generations out. In a changing climate precipitation and cloud cover will most likely look different and hence a need to communicate and emphasize that water is a scarce and finite resource. There are structures and organizations in place, so the idea of not-reinventing the wheel was mentioned but to do it strategically with strong leaders will be critical. These workshops were testament that we have the man power and best available science in hand to adapt and to move forward, but the urgency to engage more audiences is paramount. Inspiring stewardship and bringing communities together is no easy task, but every participant who showed up for these workshops has people/manpower to lead us through this process and build resiliency on each of our islands.



On Molokai, it was inspiring to hear the participants brainstorming highly visible restoration projects that not only build resiliency along the landscape, but also emphasizing the power & strength of healthy, sustainable communities too. The vision and tangible strategies of how to start this effort was inspiring and is exciting to see on the ground projects in the works. We look forward to seeing more communities come together, new networks of organizations strategizing how to adapt across the landscape, and ultimately moving forward as new challenges arise. Mahalo to those agencies who sent participants, EcoAdapt for fostering these conversations and helping us synthesize the process, and as always to the organizations who hosted us for the time and space to get together in person.