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Pacific islanders face daily ‘destructive realities’ of climate change

Dr Jale Samuwai (Wansolwara)
Dr Jale Samuwai (left) - "Pacific Island countries are at the frontline of the impact of climate change" (Wansolwara)

JUNIOR OIOFA | Wansolwara / Pacific Media Watch

SUVA - Climate change is real and many Pacific Island countries are experiencing this “destructive reality”, says climate researcher Dr Jale Samuwai.

Dr Samuwai became the first graduate to be awarded a PhD in climate change at the University of the South Pacific this year and his analysis of an “equitable Green Climate Fund allocation policy” has been published in the latest Pacific Journalism Review.

Speaking at the recent USP graduation ceremony, he said Pacific Island countries were at the frontline of the impact of climate change.

“Many low-lying atolls in the Pacific region like Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu among others are experiencing the same threat of global warming and sea level rise, which is very destructive to their lives,” he said.

“The change in weather patterns and seasonal harvesting of marine life are not following the normal patterns of the past. People are starting to experience abnormal tides and they are worried about what the damage the tide may cause to their properties.”

I-Kiribati Katarina Botioa said their island was sinking and people were forced to move inland for safety reasons, not knowing what the sea level would be like in the years to come.

‘‘We also do community work like planting of mangroves around the island and building seawalls to protect our home and houses but the power of nature is stronger than the power of humans,” Botioa said.

She said the government and the people of Kiribati were trying their best to address the issue of climate change but they could not do this alone. They needed global action to help strengthen their climate fight.

‘‘Our people are suffering a lot from the impact of climate change. Our properties are being washed away demanding us to evacuate to places which do not belong to us. How can other people from different cultures accept us and allow us to live with them?” Botioa said.

Solomon Islander Samuel Kenini said his island atoll, Ontong Java, was also experiencing the same impact and was also on the verge of “sinking”.

‘‘We continue to experience our shorelines and beaches being washed away, causing people to move inland and even settle on other islands,” he said.

“The impact of sea level rise is real and beyond our control.”

Junior Oiofa is a final-year journalism student at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala campus in Suva and regional student editor of USP Journalism’s newspaper and online publication Wansolwara


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