The manager of the Pacific Climate Change and Migration project says people in the region could find themselves trapped on atolls most vulnerable to the adverse effects of a changing climate.
Malcolm Ponton says extensive research conducted with nearly 7,000 people in communities in Nauru, Kiribati and Tuvalu shows that most islanders are already feeling the negative effects of climate change.
Mr Ponton says many of these people admit that as their situation worsens they may be forced to migrate.
But he says without improved access to a comprehensive strategy that includes migration options, a significant proportion of these people will not be able to leave.
"There is very little loan support to help them prepare their applications and to improve their ability to get out. The results of the survey are identifying the problems which the governments actually face and which they could then transform into better policy making at the national level."