Addressing climate security in the Pacific

December 14, 2021

Focusing on inclusive solutions at the community level, exchanging views and expectations on how to address climate-security issues at the regional level, and deciding on the catalytic way forward were some of the key objectives of the first Project Board Meeting of the UN Secretary General’s Peacebuilding Fund funded Climate Security in the Pacific Project held in November.

The Project Board, comprising of representatives from the three countries (Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Republic of Marshall Islands) and the Pacific Island Forum (PIF), the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, UNDP, IOM and the donor (UN Peace Building Fund), has the highest level of decision-making authority and is responsible for making decisions for the project’s successful implementation.

Through the joint UN Climate Security in the Pacific Project, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are supporting the governments of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, as well as regional organizations, to assess the climate-security risks and support them to design and implement risk management solutions that are sustainable, inclusive and catalytic.

The project was designed after the visit of the UN Secretary-General to the Pacific in 2019, during which he witnessed first-hand the impacts of climate change to the security of Pacific Island Countries and defined it as an “existential threat”. It is also a response to the Pacific leaders’ call, who recognized in the ‘Boe Declaration’ and its Action Plan that climate change represents the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of Pacific people.

The presentation of the overall progress of the project, including the extensive consultations and the identification and selection of pilot initiatives, and the discussion on the way forward, including the planned activities for 2022 and the request for a no-cost extension, were the main topics of the first Project Board Meeting.

Members of the Board Meeting in Suva, Fiji (Photo: UNDP)

Members of the Board Meeting joining virtually (Photo: UNDP)

In their opening remarks, the Co-Chairs (including the UN Resident Coordinator in Fiji Sanaka Samarasinha and the UN Resident Coordinator in Micronesia Jaap Van Hierden, the UNDP Resident Representative Levan Bouadze, the PBF Chief of Mission Brian Williams and the IOM Chief of Mission in Micronesia Salvatore Sortino) highlighted the importance of the project at the regional and global levels, underlined its catalytic nature and reaffirmed the commitment and ambition to set the example for similar initiatives in the region.

The Government representatives from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu expressed their appreciation to the UN Secretary General and the Peace Building Fund, underlining the vital role of the project in addressing critical climate-related security issues at the national level.

The meeting was an occasion to exchange experiences and engage in fruitful, constructive, and inclusive dialogue. The Project Board members had the opportunity to assess the project results at the country level, learning from the country coordinators what has been done in terms of inclusive consultations, as well as the strategic justification for the selection of pilot initiatives, their relevance to climate security, and their expected peacebuilding impact.

After over one year of implementation, the Climate Security in the Pacific Project is designing pilot initiatives at the country level, based on an extensive and inclusive consultation process conducted throughout the year. In Kiribati, the pilot initiatives (nursery, fish center, space for warehouse) will help resolve conflicts over natural resources that are foreseen due to the impact of climate change. In the Republic of the Marshall Islands, it emerged from the consultations that sea-level rise and eroding coastlines are the main concerns of local communities. Finally, in Tuvalu, the project identified the climate security-related challenges and approved the pilot initiatives, which include food cube gardening and water facility improvement, that will help local communities to overcome conflicts over natural resources and maintain peace and stability on the island of Nui.

Local community in Tamana, Kiribati

At the regional level, the initiative is also supporting regional dialogues on climate security and developing risk assessments in coordination with IOM and regional actors that will provide data and evidence for decision-makers and support a Pacific climate security advocacy strategy. The regional support to the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the Coalition of Low Lying Atoll Nations on Climate Change (CANCC), in coordination with the UN Climate Security Mechanism, aims at establishing a permanent knowledge exchange network and providing strategic high-level policy advise.

At the end of the Board Meeting, the members jointly decided on the way forward for 2022, including the request for a no-cost extension until the end of 2022, the proposed pilot initiatives and profiles in the three countries and the planned work at the regional level.

Inclusive dialogue with youth in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The informative workshop sessions presented the definition, concepts and in-depth analysis of Climate Security and its significance at the national and regional level.

Inclusive dialogue in Kiribati

Inclusive dialogue in Tuvalu

UNDP and IOM, with the support of all the Project Board members, will continue to work together to implement this critical project, contributing to building resilience and tackling the issues that are threating the security of the Pacific people.

For more information:

Giulio Fabris, Communication and Advocacy Specialist - Climate Security Project, UNDP Pacific Office, Fiji | Email: