Climate Change Migration and Displacement Obligations

A recent article reported on a regional meeting that took place in Suva, Fiji a few days ago to consider key Pacific priorities and responsibilities for advancing commitments under international and regional policy frameworks on climate change migration and displacement. This was a significant meeting as the topic of climate change and rising sea levels will affect culture in the Pacific Islands.

Senior Pacific island government officials from Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, as well as representatives of development partners and various experts discussed issues at the three-day meeting such as:

  • development-migration nexus in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • building resilience through labour mobility;
  • migration and displacement as they relate to loss and damage under the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage;
  • and regional mechanisms to address the needs of migrants and displaced persons.

Coastline, Solomon Islands

The meeting was a key activity of the European Union funded PCCM project which aims to develop the capacity of Pacific Island countries to address the impacts of climate change on migration through well-managed, rights-based migration schemes and policy frameworks, supported by comprehensive research and knowledge building.

Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the meeting, Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga said: “Climate change displacement and unplanned relocation are highly disruptive to livelihoods, culture and society and require proper, well-planned interventions to support people in their efforts to adapt to the challenges, particularly in securing access to decent livelihoods.”

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Christoph Wagner said: “It is clear that climate change, and the impact climate change has on the environment, will become an increasingly important driver of migration from rural to urban areas within Pacific island countries and to other countries. Wagner added, “We also want to help those Pacific island countries who are going to be receiving migrants to maximize the opportunities that the additional labor, expertise and experience can offer.”

Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, said: “The movement of people in the Pacific due to the effects of climate change is sadly a growing issue that needs our collective attention. The region must come together and work out a strategy for how to best ensure that the rights and well-being of our Pacific sisters and brothers who are facing displacement and relocation are protected and nurtured. This must include those who do not want to move”


Pathway to village, Solomon Islands

It was hoped that the regional meeting will build on existing global and regional policy directions to promote alignment and coherence, including the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP), the Paris Agreement, the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM), the Samoa Pathway and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

About islandculturearchivalsupport

Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of records pertaining to the cultural identity of island peoples in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia whose national and public archives, libraries, cultural centers, and business organizations are underprivileged, underfunded, and understaffed. The specific purpose for which this nonprofit corporation was formed is to support the needs of these South Pacific cultural heritage institutions by helping to preserve and make accessible records created for business, accountability or cultural purposes. The organization will endeavor to add value by providing resources or volunteers to advise, train, and work among island residents to support their efforts in building their future and preserving their collective memory through the use of modern archival techniques.
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