Hopes that Fiji conference can give shape to Paris approach
It's hoped a conference in Fiji this week will give the region a strong platform ahead of a major summit in Paris, but others aren't so sure.
It's hoped the outcomes of a climate resilience conference in Fiji will give the region a strong platform before next month's global climate change conference in Paris.
But the Fiji prime minister has warned that up against the big industrialized countries, Pacific Island nations could leave Paris disappointed.
Bridget Tunnicliffe reports from Nadi.
Participants at the conference heard first-hand accounts of the effects of climate change on people in a region that features low-lying island nations.
The first community in Fiji forced to relocate as a result of climate change moved further inland last year after rising sea levels eroded much of their land. The village headman Sailosi Ramatu says uprooting 154 people was traumatic.
"To relocate we have to relocate three things; we relocate the people, we relocate the church, and we relocate the government essentials within the village. To relocate is a last option because it's like forcing us to move from where we were born."
A youth advocate from Papua New Guinea says climate change is already impacting on basic human rights in her country, including access to education. Most of the country's provinces have been gripped by drought for two months now as a result of the El Nino weather pattern.
Arianne Kassman from the NGO - 350 Pacific says the lack of rain has forced many schools to close and girls tend to be the first to have to forgo their schooling.
"Children are suffering from malnutrition, severe dehydration and it's sad coming from a country that does have very fertile land to have something like this happen."
There are international estimates that women and children are 14 times more likely to die during natural disasters, which was a large focus of the conference. A number of Pacific Health ministers pointed out that while the Pacific is feeling the brunt of climate change, it's not their countries that are contributing to it.
Tuvalu's health minister Satini Manuella told conference goers that the countries that cause climate change should be held more accountable.
"I'm not really sure on how we make them responsible. If we know as a fact that those are the countries - do we have access so that they can be taken liable and what they should do."
UNFPA Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Lubna Baqi, says the timing of the conference is significant given the Paris climate conference is taking place next month.
The governments of more than 190 nations will gather at COP 21 to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change and Lubna Baqi says the Pacific needs to go in with a clear voice.
But the Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama talked about his sense of foreboding.
"I fear that our interests are about to be sacrificed, that might will triumph over reason, even though the argument of urgent and decisive action is unassailable all because of the inaction and gross irresponsiblity of what I unashamedly call the coalition of the selfish."
Mr Bainimarama says the Pacific's nearest developed neighbours, Australia and New Zealand, have also failed to back them.
He says the Pacific must show no signs of accepting its fate, because that will just encourage the industrialised nations to maintain the status quo.
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