30 Aug 2013

French Polynesia proposes global fund for climate change refugees

5:02 pm on 30 August 2013

French Polynesia's assembly wants a global fund to be set up to help climate change refugees in the Pacific.

A resolution to that has been approved and will be taken to next week's Pacific Islands Forum summit in the Marshall Islands.

Walter Zweifel asked a member of the ruling majority, Jean-Christophe Bouissou, who came up with the suggestion.

JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOUISSOU: This idea is an idea from the government of French Polynesia, particularly the president Gaston Flosse and also the president of parliament here, the assembly. And with the majority of members of parliament we decided to vote for this resolution to ask, through the Forum, if we can put out some kind of goals together to create this fund.

WALTER ZWEIFEL: In the debate you suggested that French Polynesia could accommodate some of these climate change refugees. Where would they be settled?

JB: Well, we have islands with mountains here, like Tahiti, like Moorea, and also like Bora Bora or Raiatea, the Marquesas islands, the Austral islands. So we have islands here that could probably accommodate some other people from other countries that will be in such troubles.

WZ: Have you discussed this plan with the French government, given that the French government is responsible for immigration and citizenship?

JB: This is a subject that probably we'll be allowed to discuss with the French government. What is important to us today is first of all to talk about it with other countries who are at the forum and also with the French government, of course.

WZ: Would you suggest that other countries that have higher islands, like maybe Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, should take climate refugees, as well?

JB: What we have to do, first of all is to call all the countries today, the big countries like the United States, China and also the countries in Europe, in South America, to call on their responsibilities through these climate changes, and to call also for some help in creating this fund, and also looking with other countries like Australia and New Zealand and Fiji and other countries here in the Pacific, South Pacific countries, what we can do to help all these people that will be facing these kind of problems.