Pasifika nations’ voice drowned out in climate change tsunami of words

Climate change—much like ethnic cleansing—singles out certain populations, presenting migration problems every bit as serious as those of political, religious, and ethnic refugees.

Extinction is hardly less serious than genocide, yet its quarry have no legal basis to relocate.

Pasifika nations have little to no voice in international energy policy, and exert, at most, limited influence over international law.

At COP21 these inequities have been at the fore, as the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), in partnership with the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), presented a sweeping survey among the populations of Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu, alongside much-needed policy recommendations for the international community.

The survey—launched by UNESCAP but executed largely by locals—canvassed 852 households (6,852 people) in these three countries.

It’s the first comprehensive look at the migration patterns and climate anxieties of these islanders.

As Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga put it in a prepared statement: “The results from this unprecedented survey show us empirically what we already know.

“Pacific islanders are facing the brunt of climate change impacts and are increasingly finding themselves with fewer options.”

What can the rest of us do? Some straightforward stuff with job training, risk-management tools (simple facilities for storing water, for example), and, perhaps most crucially, international law.

To ease migration, the U.N. also advocates training island citizens as nurses, schoolteachers, and police.

Such training would help strengthen visa applications for emigration to better-elevated countries, and help émigrés find good work once they get there.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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