Climate Security in the Pacific

August 15, 2021

Climate change represents the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and wellbeing of Pacific people.

Although contributing the least to less than 0.03% of all CO₂ emissions, the Pacific region is disproportionately impacted by climate change and its adverse effects on human security, which are threatening the very existence of Pacific Small Islands Developing States  - SIDS -.

Climate-related security challenges are particularly affecting indigenous people, whose livelihoods are deeply reliant on the natural resources provided by the Pacific ecosystems.

Due to saltwater intrusion, droughts, erosion and reef degradation, the reduced land productivity will force them to migrate well before their land disappears beneath the ocean.

Global warming, warmer ocean temperatures and rising sea levels are causing an increase in both the intensity and frequency of natural hazards, making the impact of climate-related disasters more severe.

Diminishing freshwater supplies from saltwater intrusion and droughts affects vital food crops and, consequently, food security.

Threatening the very existence of 90 percent of corals in the Pacific, climate change  hurts Pacific economy and tourism industry.

Pacific SIDS are at risk of losing land and their exclusive economic zones. Rising seas and coastal erosion could lead to disputes on shifting maritime zone boundaries, which are critical for national security and ocean resource management.

The objective of United Nations Climate Security in the Pacific project is to assess the climate security risks, build capacities and implement risk management actions to strengthen the resilience of local communities and ensuring the inclusion and active participation of women, youth and vulnerable groups.

With the generous funding of the UN Peace Building Fund, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Organization for Migration are working with the Governments of Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, as well as regional organizations, helping set the direction to manage climate-related risks and strengthen the capacities of Pacific Nations.

Whether we like it or not, it is a question of when not if, we will have to deal with the security impacts of climate change. We can sit and watch Pacific SIDS become unhabitable or even disappear… but who do we think will be hit next?

The Pacific voice is loud and clear: We need urgent climate action to ensure a sustainable future not only for Pacific people but for our planet.

We can only make a difference together while leaving none behind.

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