PICAN’s key priorities for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States

2 September 2014

Pacific Islands Climate Action Network's key priorities for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  Apia, Samoa. September 1-4, 2014.

1. Stronger action is needed to cut emissions, in line with a global goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5°C

If we are to have any hope of avoiding the potentially catastrophic impacts of a changing climate, the world needs a strong, binding agreement in 2015.  The international community needs to learn from Small Island Developing States.  We are leading the way, by taking action to reduce emissions today.  All countries must act in accordance with their historical responsibility and respective capabilities. Developed countries must reduce their emissions as soon as possible, and must make far stronger commitments than are currently on the table.

Pacific island communities are already vulnerable to climate-related hazards including droughts, floods and intense cyclones.  Without world-wide action now, island communities will face ever-greater threats from changing rainfall patterns, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, salination and inundation from sea-level rise.  Island communities who grow their own food and rely on resources from the sea are especially vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, has called for world leaders to come together in New York (September 23 2014) with bold new commitments.  Pacific island countries are responding to this call for greater action.  However leaders from all States must use this historic opportunity to inject momentum into international climate negotiations and redouble their efforts to secure a global agreement.  

2. Greater commitment is needed to adaptation financing for Pacific island countries

Pacific Small Island Developing States are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Pacific women, men and young people are strong and resilient.  We are drawing on our own strengths to adapt.  But now it is time for the international community to put its money where its mouth is.  Wealthier nations have to provide adequate, additional and predictable financing to help Pacific communities adapt to a changing climate.  Global funds – such as the Green Climate Fund – must be accessible for Pacific island governments, communities and civil society organisations.  

Pacific island states are leading the world when it comes to integrating climate change adaptation into national and regional development planning.  Island policymakers have developed a regional Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development.  Integrating adaptation into existing planning, particularly around disaster risk reduction, helps to address the underlying causes of disaster and climate risk. However countries responsible for our changing climate must provide additional financing for climate change adaptation in Pacific island countries.  

Because many island communities are reliant on local natural resources, they are especially vulnerable to natural disasters and the slow-onset changes wrought by climate change. More support should be allocated to community-based adaptation measures.  Recent experience in the Pacific indicates that civil society organisations working together – in coordination with national governments – can implement effective community-based adaptation measures.  Adaptation programs must address the unique challenges faced by all community members.  Women and young people in particular have experience and skills that can contribute to adaptation solutions, but they are too often excluded from decision-making.  


3. Carbon emitters need to take responsibility for unavoidable ‘loss and damage’ in Pacific island states

Pacific Small Island Developing States are not responsible for global climate change, yet we will bear the greatest impacts wrought by a changing climate.  Even if drastic action is taken now to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere, Pacific island countries are still likely to experience significant losses, and permanent damage associated with climate change.   Countries responsible for emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere must address the impacts of their pollution. Toward that end, loss and damage mechanisms must be anchored in the text of a global agreement to tackle climate change.


 4. Governments need to ensure the human dignity of those affected by climate change  

Without action now to avoid drastic changes to our global climate, many island communities will face new threats that will undermine their food and water security.  Coastal communities are very likely to experience stronger storm surges, increased erosion and inundation as sea levels rise. Salination is likely to compromise groundwater resources for some atoll communities. Changing rainfall patterns will impact on coastal and inland communities, with the potential to undermine agricultural practices that have provided sustainable livelihoods for countless generations.  For some communities, the effects of a changing climate may even make their homes uninhabitable. Governments must develop strategies to protect the rights and dignity of Pacific women, men and young people who will be adversely affected by a changing climate.  Particular attention must be given to those who will be temporarily displaced, or forced to resettle elsewhere.

For Media Enquiries please contact:

PICAN convenor Shirley Laban: +685 7297617; Pacific Conference of Churches climate campaign officer Peter Emberson +685 7291464. 

Both Shirley Laban and Peter Emberson are available for interview

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