III. EXISTING INSTITUTIONS AND MEASURES FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS INTO DEVELOPMENT PLANNING AND DECISION-MAKING FOR SUVA CITY
H. Economic incentives and the urban environment
2. Public awareness and the urban environment
Any regulatory system, whether command and control or self-regulation, will work more efficiently if the population is environmentally aware. In recent years, Fiji has put some effort into environmental awareness programmes, which have been carried out by the Department of the Environment and several NGOs. Yet despite those attempts to raise environmental awareness, the general response by the general public to environmental degradation in Fiji has been relatively poor. A survey carried out by SPACHEE in 1992 indicated that the reason for the public remaining silent on issues concerning the environment was the inability to articulate concerns as well as an unwillingness and inability to act on them. It is a cultural trait among the communities of Fiji not to speak out.
The SPACHEE survey focused on four target groups: people living in coastal/fishing areas, forest and inland areas, agricultural areas and urban areas. It indicated that although most people probably had an understanding of the concept of the environment and ecological relationships, they were not familiar with the common English usage of the work "environment". There is, consequently, a need either to use another term in awareness campaigns or to make an effort to better familiarize the population with the term "environment". The word must come to symbolize the more important human and environment interrelationships which are currently under stress in Fiji. That is particularly true in urban areas where the relationship between the environment and poverty are readily apparent.
All communities seem to be aware of the more strictly "natural environment-based problems" resulting from both human and natural causes. However, there seems to be relatively limited appreciation of the more socially, or economically, induced environmental problems such as urban overcrowding, urban population growth, and increasing poverty and social breakdown.