UN to help Pacific nations build capacity for possible climate migration
United Nations agencies combine force in a new project to raise the capacity of Pacific countries in case they need to migrate as a result of climate change.
Several United Nations agencies are combining skills for a new initiative addressing the impacts of climate change in the Pacific.
The Economic and Social Commission for the Pacific, the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme want to help the threatened countries prepare for migration, if needed as a result of climate change.
ESCAP's Iosefa Maiava explains to Don Wiseman.
IOSEFA MAIAVA: This project looks at investigating what the capacity needs of vulnerable communities are and investigating what the options are in terms of movement of people internally, primarily internally, but also looking at opportunities for relocating elsewhere if the need arises and if the individuals concerned and the governments concerned wish to. So it's not assuming that people will move, but it is helping give people the opportunity to build up the capacity so that if and when the need arises and if communities and governments agree that it's the best thing for them to do, they can do so.
DON WISEMAN: There's a lot of talk in the Pacific, of course, at the moment about labour mobility. And I guess you would see some linkage there.
IM: Yes, some governments, they would see that as an opportunity that needs to be enhanced which requires some investigation of what the conditions are, what the expectations are from the point of view of potential destination countries. And I think that would be good information that potential sending countries will need to have to prepare those who are willing to move when the opportunity arises, to do so with a lot more efficiency than there would be if things were just left to be dealt with in an ad hoc manner or when a crisis occurs. So I think the idea is to help prepare.
DW: The most probable thing you'll reveal if you're assessing capacities is that most countries do not have the capacity to properly deal with this, so they're going to be then requiring some additional input. Are you looking at that point, as well?
IM: One of the things that a prime minister has already expressed in response to this project is he would like to see a greater focus on educating his people on what's coming and what the options are for them, which means some input into clarifying and looking at ways of providing those options.
DW: There's been increasing discussion in the Pacific over the last 12 months or so of the Nansen Initiative and this idea of new laws to cover people that would be climate refugees. Now, would you be looking at this, as well?
IM: Well, we're hoping to link up with the initiative because when it's clear that we are getting into an area that is unregulated, so to speak, that is in many ways ad hoc, and therefore exposed to all kinds of uncertainties and surprises. And I think to build up an information base and knowledge and understanding of what the different scenarios might be and what the options are, those are all going to be helpful in arriving at laws and regulations that make sense. So I see a very necessary link between what we're trying to do here and the Nansen Initiative.
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