While PNG is dealing with issues of foreign Refugees in Manus Province, another threat much closer than anticipated stands in the way of many coastal communities in developing island nations of the Pacific – climate change refugees.
Many nations have become less vulnerable to natural disasters ranging from cyclones to earthquakes because of improved preparedness, but Pacific island states remain most at risk, a study showed.
While the issue of economic costs is seen as a major challenge for many developing nations battling natural disasters, the most daunting task that will fall on their governments, is to look for land to relocate their people.
The Government of Kiribati has paid about $10 million (US$5 million) for 15,000 acres of land in Fiji and the village of Naviavia is in the middle of it – with the Fijian locals having mixed feelings.
“Most are wondering what is going to happen? Are they going to be part of us or part of our community or are they going to have their own set up rules?” stated a local.
Meanwhile in Germany, talks are underway in Bonn where Fiji is presiding the COP23 Climate Conference to get agreements from parties to lower carbon emissions by 1.5 Degree Celsius.
Speaking at the conference, Fiji’s Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, urged the delegates the time to act was now.
“By aiming for 1.5 degrees, we are setting ourselves a serious challenge but, it provides us with a mission, it engages our capacity for ingenuity, for organisation and sheer hard work and who knows what we might achieve when humanity’s capacity to innovate is unleashed.”
Patricia Espinoza, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, has pointed out that pledges made so far under the Paris Agreement are not enough to meet the objectives of the agreement itself. However, Germany has pledged its support behind Fiji’s presidency.
The conference also saw the communion of culture based knowledge from various indigenous groups dealing with climate change challenges.
“We know firsthand, from our Pacific experience, that climate change disproportionately affects local communities and indigenous peoples who often live in and depend on fragile ecosystems. The impacts of climate change are already threatening homes, livelihoods, cultures and nations. For indigenous peoples, resilience to climate change is rooted in traditional knowledge. Indigenous knowledge and practices can greatly contribute to advancing nature-based solutions for both mitigation and adaptation,” Fiji’s Ambassador to the European Union and COP23 climate ambassador, Deo Saran stated.
There is more to Paris Climate Change Pact than just Adopting an Agreement
Climate Change Migration A Cultural Genocide
Natural Disasters: A Challenge For Developing Nations
UN Report: Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters
Climate Change and the Female Population