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This paper studies evidences from community relocations in Papua New Guinea and Fiji that have shown that loss of culture are unavoidable results of relocation if customary land tenure is not considered at very early stage at relocation process. Good governance and best practice addressing limits to adaptation should include this dimension. Post-relocation vulnerability associated to land-based conflicts and the loss of customary land systems need to be considered when planning for relocation as sustainable adaptation strategy to climate change in the Pacific region. The diversity of customary land rights in the Pacific makes relocation a particularly complex process that needs to include negotiation at early stages of the process, including Governments, local leaders and both relocatees and hosting communities. Understanding this dimension is crucial and without deep comprehension of community-based adaptation strategies and planning around land management, the relocation process is likely to be unsustainable as it will lack the important cultural heritage and the essential link between Islanders and their land, which is considered an extension of one’s own self. Customary authorities and institutions are legitimate governance actors holding their own governance mechanisms in the Pacific region. Strategies addressing climate change adaptation in the Pacific should include both state-based governance mechanisms combined with customary non-state institutions. In order to combine those two forms of governance, it is necessary to include traditional authorities to the decision-making process on relocation. This cannot be done without a deep respect for their view of the world, a profound understanding of how they represent climate change and migration within their belief systems and how traditional knowledge directly addresses those questions.
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