Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama delivered a powerful statement at the opening of the Virtual Pacific Regional Consultation on Internal Displacement earlier this evening, saying that climate change also contributes to mass-migration across our region.
Prime Minister Bainimarama said that every year, more of our citizens will be forced to leave their homes to escape stronger storms, rising seas, and swelling rivers brought by climate change.
“It is a crisis we did not cause but the consequences of which we bear nonetheless. Some of our lower-lying neighbors face an existential threat. At the current rate of emissions, the displacement of their people won’t be internal but external, across borders, as their entire nations slip beneath the rising seas.”
For this reason, the Prime Minister said Fiji has offered permanent settlement to the citizens of Tuvalu and Kiribati should they need it.
On the home front, Prime Minister Bainimarama said that we’re focused on the complex challenge of relocating vulnerable Fijian communities, with 43 already identified.
“You can bet that number will rise. Six communities have been fully or partially relocated so far. Moving a community and doing it sustainably; ensuring Fijians can live with both security and the dignity of good jobs and access to essential services – that is how we can spark a sense of ownership among people who have endured the trauma of leaving the land they knew as home, the land where their ancestors are buried and which they hoped their children would inherit,” he added.
Prime Minister Bainimarama also highlighted at the virtual consultation, Fiji’s milestone achievement in launching the world’s first Planned Relocation Guidelines at the COP24 and the launch of a relocation fund for people displaced by climate change in 2019.
“Our National Adaptation Plan also maps out a multi-billion-dollar effort to strengthen our climate resilience and we’re looking to nature to fortify communities and create sustainable sources of income.
“Climate-driven displacement isn’t some distant doomsday proposition. It is happening right now. In response, we have to change and adapt as quickly as the climate. To do that, we need the support of the rest of the world and as the Chair for the Platform of Disaster Displacement, Fiji looks forward to leading alongside our development partners and organisations, like the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security, not by talking – but by doing.”
The virtual consultation presents an opportunity for Pacific government officials to exchange their country experiences in addressing climate and disaster-induced internal displacement.
Recommendations from the consultation will be submitted to the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement.