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The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

Climate Change in the Pacific Islands

Small-island developing states or large-ocean island states in the Pacific are some of the countries most impacted by climate change due to their low topographies, geographic remoteness, infrastructure development challenges, and high population densities. Climate change impacts are causing several human rights issues – threatening the right to water, food, and shelter – and exacerbating existing social, economic, and political risks in the region.

Impacts such as sea level rise, flooding, saltwater intrusion, and drought have affected a significant number of the region’s inhabitants. For example, 94% of households in Kiribati and 97% in Tuvalu have experienced climate hazards, and as a result, 23% of migrants in Kiribati and 8% in Tuvalu cite climate change as one of the reasons they have decided to migrate. Most climate-related migration is—and is expected to remain—internal, with populations moving from rural or coastal areas into urban towns and cities. And while most households in these two countries feel that climate change impacts will require migration, most do not have the financial means necessary to actually migrate.

Internal relocation and/or migration is inevitable for most communities in the region; however, it is seen as a last resort. Pacific Island governments and civil society are instead focusing on pushing developed countries to reduce their emissions and provide resources to support adaptation and compensation for the loss and damages that are affecting their communities.  

Sixteen community representatives from Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu will attend the convening.

Population Size and Recent Disaster-Related Displacements
(Compiled from IDMC Data)

CountryPopulationMost Recent Disaster Displacements
Fiji903,000370 (2017)
Kiribati116,0002,400 (2015)
Marshall Islands53,0001,200 (2014)
Palau22,0001,500 (2013)
Papua New Guinea7,934,0001,400 (2017)
Solomon Islands606,000580 (2017)
Tuvalu10,0005,400 (2015)