Pacific Leaders Address Migration and Climate Change


Sabira Coelho, Programme Manager on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, IOM Fiji, Suva

Pacific Resilience Meeting and the 3rd Climate Action Pacific Partnership Meeting 
1-3 May and 13-14 May 2019
Suva, Fiji

To take stock of progress related to implementation of the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP), the inaugural Pacific Resilience Meeting (PRM) was held in Suva from 1-3 May. The meeting hosted over 300 practitioners, including from government, non-government organizations, regional and international partners working on climate change, disaster risk reduction, humanitarian operations, low carbon development amongst other sectors.

A session dedicated to displacement culminated in four key messages: firstly, displacement in the context of disasters and climate change requires coordination and targeted action; secondly, whole-of-government and integrated approaches are essential; thirdly, action to address displacement should be informed by community needs, capacity and perspectives; and fourthly, technical guidance, terminology and lessons learned need to be shared across the Pacific. The final PRM outcome statement urged for the consideration of a Technical Working Group on climate-driven and disaster-induced displacement.

Following on the heels of the PRM, the 3rd Climate Action Pacific Partnership Meeting (CAPP) was held in Suva from 13-14 May, bringing together Pacific Heads of States to accelerate climate action and transformative changes in the Pacific. The CAPP, established by the Government of Fiji during its COP 23 Presidency, is a coalition of Pacific stakeholders to exchange ideas, innovations and solutions to address climate change. The 2019 meeting focused on amplifying voices before the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in September and looked ahead to COP 25 in Chile and its central theme, the climate-ocean nexus.

Pacific Leaders and Heads of Delegations reiterated the links between migration, displacement and relocation and climate change. Notably, the Government of Fiji mentioned upcoming plans for a relocation trust fund; Vanuatu hailed the displacement policy as having a positive impact on vulnerable communities affected by climate change and the Solomon Islands urged all Pacific states to ensure that the Task Force on Displacement under the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage be extended. Similarly, Tuvalu identified displacement as a potential climate security risk while the Pacific Conference of Churches called upon leaders for “relocation with dignity” and for increased support to host communities.

The IOM Chief of Mission for Australia and Coordinator for the Pacific, Mr. Pär Liljert, moderated the session on climate security issues. Through the session, panelists emphasized the unique security challenges posed by climate change in the Pacific region and the importance of the Boe Declaration on Regional Security in acknowledging these risks. In particular, displacement and planned relocation were seen as intervening factors that if not well managed, could lead to conflict and violence. The impact on human rights and human security approach was also considered as important to address these challenges. A representative from the private sector in Vanuatu emphasized the green climate fund and the role of small business as well as cash transfers. A government representative from Vanuatu commented from the floor that 15 per cent of Vanuatu’s budget goes towards responding to climate resilience. The CAPP meeting closed with the presentation of the Pacific roadmap to 2020. It was also announced that Cook Islands will host the 4th CAPP meeting in 2020.

More information on the agenda and updates from the CAPP conference can be found here: 

Learn more about IOM's work in the Pacific, such as the "Enhancing protection and empowerment of migrants and communities affected by climate change and disasters in the Pacific region" project.