Historic climate declaration in the Pacific
26 Oct 22
Pacific Island countries have made history with the first ever community-led climate declaration in the region.
Major Pacific civil society organisations, including the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO), Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN), the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), Caritas Oceania, 350 Pacific and many grassroots Pacific Island organisations, came together from the 17-19 October in Fiji to put together the Kioa Climate Emergency Declaration 2022.
The Kioa Climate Emergency Declaration 2022 will be presented to the global community at COP27 in Egypt in November.
COP27 is a meeting of leaders, governments and civil society organisations from across the world to discuss and set targets to tackle the climate emergency. It will build on the outcomes of COP26 to deliver action on an array of issues including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening resilience against the impacts of climate change, and financing climate action in developing countries.
The Pacific region has previously called for climate action with the Suva Climate Change Declaration (2015), Boe Declaration (2018), Kainaki II Declaration (2019) and the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy (2022). Many of these declarations have been made by political leaders, rather than organisations working with the communities who are most affected by climate change.
How is climate change impacting the Pacific?
Small island nations in the Pacific account for around 0.5 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, yet they are already facing rising sea levels, extreme weather events like cyclones and king tides, and other devastating consequences of climate change.
Countries in the Pacific are also facing the loss of coastal infrastructure and land, failure of key subsistence crops and coastal fisheries, the loss of crucial coral reefs and mangroves, and an increase in certain diseases. This has devastating impacts on culture and identity, as communities have lost their burial grounds, ancestral land, and traditional fishing grounds, with some forced to relocate.
As a migrant community on the frontlines of the climate crisis, we have called our sisters and brothers of Pacific civil society to talanoa here, on our island, because it is about the fate of our very own people. Kioa is a story of planned relocation. However, today we carry the dangerous futures of our homeland Tuvalu who face forced relocation due to sea level rise. Ours is a story about our ‘tears of resilience’.”
What are Pacific Island countries asking for?
The Declaration calls on international governments, including the Australian Government, to work for:
- Greater action on mitigation, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to align to the 1.5C temperature goal, to ensure survival of small island communities.
- Urgent action on adaptation including financing and support for community-led initiatives.
- Urgent progress on the issue of Loss & Damage of homes and livelihoods from a changing climate where adaptation is not possible.
- Ensure the just, dignified and safe movement of peoples, in the context of climate change
- Guaranteed access to finance, and the creation of more equitable finance arrangements, beginning with a review of regional and international financial architectures, with inputs from civil society organisations and other stakeholders.
- Ocean policies that are compatible with the climate goals including banning deep sea mining and other destructive practices that endanger the survival of small island communities.
- Achieve inter-generational equity, ensuring we leave a better world for our descendants, by cancelling climate debt and a commitment to a debt-free future.
What can we do about climate change in the Pacific?
Caritas Australia Advocacy Associate Director Damian Spruce attended the meeting in Kioa and engaged with grassroots climate change advocacy leaders from across the Pacific.
“Climate change adaptation is a crucial part of this Declaration. We welcome the Albanese Government’s announcement that it will commit an additional $375 million for aid and development in the Pacific region, and we hope that a portion of this will go towards climate change adaptation,” said Damian Spruce.
“This will have a significant impact on the communities who are most impacted by climate change right now in the Pacific.”
The declaration comes ahead of Caritas Oceania and Jubilee Australia Research Centre’s climate finance report titled: Twin clouds on the horizon: averting a combined climate and debt crisis in the Pacific through Locally-delivered climate finance.
It is the first report to look in detail at debt, climate change and their combined impacts on the Pacific region.
The report calls on Australia to lead the international community in strengthening the ability of Pacific nations to withstand the shocks of climate change, through restructuring debt, improving climate finance and funding the Pacific Resilience Facility.
Read the report “Twin clouds on the horizon”.