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PCCMHS Hosts Successful COP26 Side Event on Climate-related Mobility

Tuvalu - "We are sinking. But so is everyone else. … if we feel the impacts today like in Tuvalu, or in 100 years, we will all still feel the dire effects of this global crisis one day. …We are looking to the future and preparing now for the worst case scenario, where our lands disappear and our people must leave”. These were the strong opening statements made by Tuvalu Foreign Minister Hon. Minister Simon Kofe at the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security (PCCM-HS) programme COP26 side event on the Pacific Regional Resilience Hub titled ‘building a comprehensive regional approach to climate mobility: learnings from the PCCMHS programme’ on 9 November 2021.

The COP26 side event brought over 70 participants together from a multitude of sectors ranging from government, civil society, regional CROP agencies and members of academia to showcase the regional efforts being made by the PCCMHS programme and the joint-working group to advance work pertaining to a regional framework to climate change related migration, displacement and planned relocation. In addition, it was an opportunity for Pacific leaders to remind major emitting countries of the need for bold action towards climate related mobility along with the urgency required to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius alive by reducing global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.  

Hon. Minister Simon Kofe said “In Tuvalu, our islands are sacred to us. They contain the mana of our people. They were the home of our ancestors, they are the home of our people today, and we want them to remain the home of our people into the future”. Hon. Minister Kofe added that the Government and people of Tuvalu will continue to mobilize collective action at national, regional and global stage in an endeavor to secure the rights and future of their people.

Fiji’s  Attorney General, Minister for Economy and Minister responsible for Climate Change, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum reiterated the immediate need for a coordinated approach towards addressing internal displacement, planned relocation and migration across borders that are caused by climate change and disasters. Whilst Fiji’s latest Climate Change Bill is the first in the world to create a legal framework for a community lead and state supported relocation, the Attorney General of Fiji said  “for our most vulnerable communities, no solution is ideal. Leaving your home, fishing grounds, livelihoods, burial sites and cultural landmarks is painful no matter what the costs of staying put might be”.

Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum acknowledged the work undertaken by the PCCMHS programme and called for regional solidarity on this issue “by cultivating a shared understanding of our challenge and the opportunities for cooperation, we hope to arrive at a regional framework that can be another first in the world. A common regional approach to climate mobility that guarantees the individual and collective rights of all migrants”.

Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr. Henry Puna, complimented the statements made by Pacific leaders by issuing the stark reminder that climate related mobility is “indeed a matter of survival, a matter of our sovereignty, our livelihoods, our identity and as rising tides force our displacement, our dignity and rights as large ocean states will be under threat.” To that regard, the Secretary-General called for regional solidarity to ensure that the Pacific communities were safeguarded from the impacts of climate change.

The COP26 side event   included  high level speakers from implementing and donor partners such as H.E Kay Harrision of New Zealand;  Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and ESCAP Executive Secretary; Dr. Maria Nenette Motus, IOM Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific; Ms. Chihoko Asada-Miyakawa, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific; Ms. Heike Alefsen, OHCHR Regional Representative for the Pacific; and  Mr. Atle Solberg, Head of Secretariat, Platform on Disaster Displacement.  

The COP26 side event was an opportunity for Pacific government leaders and PCCMHS programme partners to renew their longstanding commitment to addressing climate related mobility. This event  re-affirmed the need for continued action and dialogue towards regional solidarity and the strengthening of partnerships in developing a regional state led framework, through the guidance of the joint-working group on climate mobility co-chaired by the Government Fiji and Tuvalu, that looks at protecting communities that are impacted by climate change related migration, displacement and planned relocation.

For video recording of the statements, please visit:

https://environmentalmigration.iom.int/event/cop26-side-event-building-comprehensive-regional-approach-climate-mobility-learnings-pacific

The PCCM-HS programme is led by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) alongside the International Labour Organization (ILO), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS). The joint agency PCCMHS programme is funded by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and the New Zealand Foreign Aid Programme.For more information contact

Sabira Coelho, Programme Manager, PCCMHS  at IOM Fiji. Email: scoelho@iom.int

Nobuko Kajiura, Economic Affairs Officer, at UN ESCAP. Email: kajiura.unescap@un.org

Peter Emberson, PCCMHS at UN ESCAP. Email. peter.emberson@un.org