As I begin to spring forward into research on climate change adaptation and environmental migration in the South Pacific, here are a few quotes.
“We strongly believe that it is the political and moral responsibility of the world, particularly those who caused the problem, to save small islands and countries like Tuvalu from climate change, and ensure that we continue to live in our home islands with long-term security, cultural identity, and fundamental human dignity. Forcing us to leave our islands due to the inaction of those responsible is immoral and can-not be used as quick-fix solutions to the problem” – Prime Minister Apisai Lelemia (Oxfam 2009).
“The hardest thing will be to lose our sacred places, our tambu places” – Chief Paul Mika from Han Island in the Cartarets.
Massive psychological, spiritual, and cultural problems arise when loosing connections to the land and loosing the cultural heritage that is tied to the land. How can this be mitigated in the resettlement of populations from these islands.
How can the cultural heritage, which is rooted in the connection to a population’s land, be carried with them into new settlements among host communities? How can these be done while maintaining the connection to the sunken land and the rights to the fisheries?
How can synergies be developed between host communities and environmental refugees?