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EDITORIAL: Climate Change Is Everyone’s Business

Much of the climate change narrative in the Pacific has been dominated by Tuvalu and Kiribati, for legitimate reasons. The danger of being drowned by the rising seas is a
25 Jun 2015 14:15
EDITORIAL: Climate Change Is Everyone’s Business
Vunidogoloa Village Relocation

Much of the climate change narrative in the Pacific has been dominated by Tuvalu and Kiribati, for legitimate reasons. The danger of being drowned by the rising seas is a daily reality for our neighbours on the vulnerable coral atolls. This has had dire consequences on their food and water security, leading to societal discord, displacement and further psycho-social problems, like depression.

The Bainimarama Government to its credit has not allowed itself to be an idle spectator to the problems of climate change. Our Prime Minister is walking the walk.

Last year, Kiribati President, Anote Tong, a visionary in his own right, helped his government buy land in Fiji. The multi-million dollar deal was considered a small price to pay for securing the future of his fellow country people. The Anglican Church with the blessings of the Fijian Government sold the heavily forested 5460 acres of land on Vanua Levu, a future home for 102,000 islanders.

There is another narrative. The effects of climate change on the bigger, volcanic islands like Fiji. Like our smaller neighbours, it too, remains a threat. While the images of huge ocean waves flooding low areas may not be too common, the effects are just as damaging.

Forty-five Fijian communities now face the threat of relocation within the next five to ten years because of the adverse effects of climate change. The gravity of the situation requires a multi-stake holder approach within the Fijian Government. This week, representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, National Disaster Management Office and civil society organisations met this week to discuss the way forward. Work on the ground has been proactive with mapping of 800 communities already underway. Already, three communities have been relocated, Vunidogoloa in Vanua Levu, Narikoso in Kadavu and Denimanu Village on Yadua Island in Bua.

Stakeholders will not wait for diplomatic solutions at high-level conferences. Neither will the tides of the Pacific Ocean. Even big greenhouse gas emitting nations like the United States are beginning to count the cost of climate change. According to a recent report released by the White House and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), by the end of the century, the U.S may face up to $FJD375 billion in economic losses because of drought and water shortages.

This scenario was calculated on the lack of any substantive committment to emission cuts.

If human rights’ is everyone’s business, climate change is everyone’s problem. The sooner everyone comes up with creative solutions the better it is, particularly for our small island neighbours.

 

Feedback: josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 


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