Urban Oceania

Exploring Urban Social Change in Oceania

Reading Group Summary: April 12th, 2021

Trundle, A. (2021). Climate resilience through socio-cultural mobility: Re-framing the Pacific’s urban informal settlements as critical adaptation pathways. DEVELOPMENT BULLETIN, 82.

Lucas Watt

Trundle’s article is part of the Development Bulletin, Perspectives on Pacific Security: Future Currents published by Australia National University (ANU). The Bulletin brings together a large collection of influential scholars to discuss in short succinct pieces “unique and urgent security needs of Pacific Island nations”. Each article in the Bulletin, including Trundle’s, responds to the security issues outlined in the Boe Declaration of Security. This deceleration was agreed upon by Pacific Island nations at the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) in 2018. It defines the range of security issues in the Pacific to include (1) Human security (2) Environmental and Resource Security (3) Transnational Crime (4) Cyber Security. Each of these issues in the Boe Declaration of Security are specifically tailored to Oceanic context. For instance, unregulated mobility between islands opens the region up to transnational crime, climate change threatens the existence of many islands, and weak digital infrastructures and regulations expose Pacific island nations to cyber security threats.

However, what makes the Boe Declaration of Security a critical document that is worthy of a lengthy multi-author response, is that it defines these issues according to an “expanded conception of security”. The Boe Declaration of Security assess issues beyond traditional notions of security, but it also considers issues of security that transcends each of these issues individually. At its basis, the security issues defined in the Boe Declaration of Security are indicative of a more overarching threat to the future “prosperity of Pacific peoples” according to Pacific-centric values such as continuity to past, kinship, and environmental relationality. In line with the Boe Declaration’s concerns, the Bulletin discusses approaches to security issues in ways that strive for prosperity according to Pacific-centric ideology and relationships.

Trundle’s article in particular discusses the issue of environmental security outlined under point (2) of the Boe Declaration of Security. According to an expanded notion of security it states that not only does climate change threaten the prospect of inhabiting specific islands; but that it it also poses a risk to the cultural and social fabric of Pacific life. In the Pacific, Trundle argues that there is an already existing infrastructure that will allow climate change migrants to maintain Pacific ways of life in the scenario that they are forced to migrate from low-lying islands to Pacific cities. Informal settlements, also known as “urban villages”, have historically been founded upon kinship links and traditional principles in ways that have allowed rural-urban migrants to integrate into the urban environment without sacrificing on their values or ways of life (see Jones, 2016). Trundle argues that in the prospect of large scale rural-urban climate change induced migration; informal settlements can play a large role in preserving the cultural and social fabric of Pacific life that climate change is threatening. Yet he also argues that Pacific governments can also play a larger role in making this a viable adaption pathway.

TransOcean is a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant project 

The project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 802223


  • Lucas Watt

    I am a Post-Doctoral researcher on the ERC-funded TransOcean Project at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), Norway. My portion of the project sets out to analyze maritime mobilities, exchange, and conservation, in the increasingly securitised region of Oceania. I graduated with a PhD from the School of Media and Communications at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University. My ethnographic fieldwork in Suva Fiji analyses how rural-urban migrants living in “informal settlements” articulate tradition in urban spaces.

One response to “Reading Group Summary: April 12th, 2021”

  1. […] concept of security”. We have reviewed parts of this development bulletin previously here. In this article we review the edited book “Mapping Security in the Pacific: A Focus on […]

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