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Pacific Governments Begin Regional Policy Dialogue On Climate Change,Migration And Human Security

Government Officials from around the Pacific region started a series of virtual policy discussions this week that will examine how climate change and disasters will affect mobility trends in the Pacific Islands. The regional policy dialogue is facilitated by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), as part of the joint-UN agency programme on Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security (PCCMHS) programme. The programme is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as the lead agency, ESCAP, International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS)

Though Pacific countries are among the smallest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, the region is highly exposed to its harshest impacts. Pacific communities are affected by a range of sudden-onset and slow-onset hazards that are either made more intense, accelerated by, or caused by climate change. This contributes to voluntary migration flows but at the same time, could increase displacement both internally and across borders. In order to adapt to the impacts of climate change, some governments are already supporting the movement of climate change-affected communities.

Over the next three months, Pacific Governments from across the region will have six online sessions that will look closely into some of the issues that arise from climate change related migration, displacement and relocation so that this complex nexus becomes better understood within the region.

“The series of online dialogues will provide Pacific Governments with the opportunity to examine the challenges and opportunities to enhance protection of people moving in relation to climate change and to review the related human security implications” said Mr. Pär Liljert, IOM Pacific Coordinator.

Mr. Iosefa Maiava, Head of the ESCAP Subregional Office for the Pacific also added that “the dialogue will look to identify policy and legal gaps in the context of climate related mobility that may be addressed through the establishment of a potential regional process”. Professor Elisabeth Holland from the University of the South Pacific presented on the scientific trajectory of climate change in the Pacific region and what the implications of warming temperatures, sea level rise, loss of marine ecosystems would mean for future generations in the Pacific.

Pacific Government Officials participating in the dialogue welcomed the forward-looking approach and expressed a need to deliver concrete policy measures to address this issue. The conversation on climate change and mobility is a difficult one for the Pacific but it needs to be held now to ensure proper planning can take place to avoid makeshift responses.

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