Coalition Of Low-Lying Atoll Nations on Climate Change gather in Palau

Posted July 6, 2022
CANCC Group Photo

CANCC roundtable participants in Palau.

Photo: UNDP

After more than two years since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Coalition of Low-Lying Atoll Nations on Climate Change (CANCC) met face-to-face in the margins of the 7th Our Ocean Conference in Palau.

The CANCC Roundtable was an opportunity for its members to discuss priorities and move forward in the fight against climate change, including the impact on human security. The event was attended by high level representatives from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu, as well as development partners including the UN Resident Coordinator in Micronesia, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).  

Born in July 2014, with its inaugural meeting held in Tarawa, Kiribati, the Coalition describes itself as an ‘Early Warning System’ for the global community and was formed with the intention of joining forces to focus global attention on the climate change impacts undermining the development and security of low-lying atoll countries and their communities. The Coalition is formed by countries that hardly reach three meters above sea-water level, including Kiribati, Maldives, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu.

Marshall Islands

Republic of the Marshall Island

Photo: UNDP

Since its inception, the Coalition has made significant progress in raising their collective voice in relevant fora, including, most recently, in the conference on ‘Resilient Atoll Nations in Productive Oceans’, organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in August 2019.

With COVID-19 hitting the world, CANCC members have had extremely limited chance of advancing their common agenda, due to travel restrictions and to the need of focusing on national response to the COVID-19 crisis.  

On the occasion of the 7th Our Ocean Conference in Palau, the roundtable was convened with the support of UNDP to allow CANCC representatives and other relevant stakeholders, to gather again after a long break and discuss priorities and way forward. The event was also the platform to assess the support for the Coalition’s effective functioning and operationalization. 

The event was chaired by the Republic of the Marshall Islands Climate Envoy Tina Stege as CANCC Chair, who welcomed the participants and expressed her joy to finally meet face-to face with Pacific neighbors and development partners in the region.  

In his opening remarks, the UN Resident Coordinator in Micronesia, Jaap Van der Heiden, emphasized the UN’s support in CANCC countries on climate change, disaster resilience and environmental protection. He also assured the UN’s commitment in the new Cooperation Framework, which will provide support to atoll nations threatened by rising sea levels and will do everything possible to allow their people to continue to live in their homeland.  

The UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative Levan Bouadze stated that while “Small Island Developing States and the Pacific face unique development challenges, low lying atoll countries, in particular, face serious human security threats due to climate change.” He added “A key element when tackling those challenges is advocacy and creating awareness on the unique climate-related security risks that atoll nations are facing.” Bouadze also stated that “UNDP has a growing portfolio that is supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation in atoll nations via vertical funds, and we are committed to working together with partners as a UN system to address those challenges, as demonstrated by the Climate Security in the Pacific project.”

CANCC Palau

UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative, Levan Bouadze, giving his remarks at the CANCC Roundtable.

Photo: UNDP

The roundtable was marked by the unexpected and pleasant visit of the Denmark Special Representative Kristian Jensen. He said “I came here tonight to meet with you in person and to learn more about the impacts of climate change in your nations. We need to find solutions to climate change together because we simply cannot wait anymore.”

Kristian Jensen

Denmark Special Representative Kristian Jensen.

Photo: UNDP

Following the welcoming remarks, the Climate Security in the Pacific project team provided an update on the progress and achievements so far, focusing on the pilot projects in Kiribati, Tuvalu and Republic of Marshall Islands and the work on the regional and national climate security risks assessments. The team also discussed with the participants the way forward, including the concrete support to CANCC as well as entry points for catalytic interventions in the region.  

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) team also provided a presentation of its support to CANCC and atoll nations, including an overview of the climate investments in atoll nations and investments in healthy oceans and sustainable blue economies.

Amatlain Kabua

RMI Ambassador at the Permanent Mission of Marshall Islands to the United Nations, H.E. Amatlain E. Kabua.

Photo: UNDP

The CANCC members appreciated the concrete proposals, projects, and ideas on how to partner and move forward. While further conversations still need to be held, the support offered by UNDP and development partners was welcomed as it will support the Coalition to evolve and strengthen.

CANCC members, being at the forefront of climate change and feeling its stark impacts on a daily basis, can play a decisive role in the international community to advocate for global support, as the challenges that they are facing now will soon threaten millions living on coastal areas worldwide.

For more information:

Emma Sale, Project Manager - Climate Security in the Pacific Project, UNDP Pacific Office, Fiji; email: emma.sale@undp.org

Giulio Fabris, Communication and Advocacy Specialist - Climate Security in the Pacific Project, UNDP Pacific Office, Fiji; email: giulio.fabris@undp.org