News Item

Fiji launches world's first fund for climate change refugees

Media 27 Sep 2019

Fijian Prime Minister Mr. Frank Bainimarama announced Fiji's Climate Relocation and Displaced Peoples Trust Fund for Communities and Infrastructure in New York while attending the 74th United Nations General Assembly.

Mr. Bainimarama says that the fund is a world first and although it is an enormous task for a tiny country, ignoring the rapid impacts climate change has on other communities can no longer be tolerated.

"We need to arm ourselves with the ability to act now." he said

"We cannot wait for communities to be drowned out by the enroaching tides. We need a holistic approach, we need adequate resources and we need it now."

The Trust Fund will be funded from a percentage of the revenue from Fiji's Environment and Climate Adaptation Levy (ECAL). Based on current projections, the annual allocation from ECAL is set to be $US5 million a year.

However, Mr Bainimarama stresses that this is not enough and is hopeful that the Trust Fund will receive additional assistance.

"Our new trust fund is undeniably one of the most effective ways that we can help our communities adapt to climate change. And it is also undeniably one of the most effective ways our international partners can support our adaption efforts."

The Prime Minister explained that Fiji is already relocating groups of people and predicts that at least 45 more communities will be moved in the near future.

"We are already moving entire communities out the way of the rising seas that have inundated their homes, ruined their farming land with saltwater, flooded their ancestral burial grounds and left them vulnerable to landslides."

"For a country like ours with limited means and a young population, dealing with this challenge, which has been caused through no fault of our own has become an increasing burden."

"Of course, it isn't just the monetary cost of relocation that is a burden on nations like Fiji. Even more incalculable is the trauma of moving, of leaving your ancestor's burial grounds behind or seeing the land or foreshore area you have farmed or harvested for generations no longer being able to feed you and your family."

"So moving a community is more than just moving a group of houses. It is about rebuilding a community and a sense of community."

Present at the launch was the Crown Prince of Norway, His Excellency Haakon Magnus and a number of Pacific Island dignitaries. Norway was acknowledged for their support in setting up the trust fund.

Image: L-R Crown Prince of Norway H.E Haakon Magnus and Fijian PM Frank Bainimarama

Source: Fijian Government