Prime Minister Honourable Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama launched the world’s first relocation fund for people displaced by climate change on the margins of the 74th United Nations General Assembly yesterday afternoon (23th September, 2019- US date).
Prime Minister Bainimarama said that the new Climate Relocation and Displaced Peoples Trust Fund for Communities and Infrastructure was undeniably one of the most effective ways of helping our communities to adapt to climate change.
“It is also undeniably one of the most effective ways our international partners can support our adaptation effort,” he said. “We are seed funding the Trust Fund through a percentage of the revenue from our Environment and Climate Adaptation Levy (ECAL). Based on current projections, the annual allocation from ECAL will be approximately five million dollars a year. But this is not enough. We look forward to additional support to undertake this enormous task.”
The Prime Minister added that Fiji had started to move the entire communities away from rising seas that have inundated their homes, ruined their farming land with saltwater, flooded their ancestral burial grounds and left them vulnerable to landslides.
He also shared the plight of the villagers of Vunidogoloa in Vanua Levu, the first group of Fijians to have been relocated about five years ago as a result of sea-level rise. “Since then, two more communities have been relocated, with at least 45 other villages in the near future that will need to be relocated to higher and safer grounds,” he said.
Prime Minister Bainimarama added that moving a community was more than just moving a group of houses. “It is about rebuilding a community and sense of community. It is about ensuring access to jobs, schools, medical services and sustainable living – all of which requires detailed and co-ordinated planning between a wide range of government agencies and other organisations,” he said.
“We have already addressed these factors in another world first – Fiji’s Planned Relocation Guidelines – that we launched at COP24, last year. These guidelines provide us with a blueprint for engaging our communities in the process of relocation, ensuring proper coordination between our various agencies, sensitising the process along the lines of gender, and taking into account how marginalised groups, such as children, the elder and those living with disabilities should be catered for.
“We need to arm ourselves with the ability to act now. We can’t wait for communities to be drowned out by the encroaching tides. We need a holistic approach, we need adequate resources and we need it now.” Also present at the launch was the Crown of Norway, His Excellency Haakon Magnus and some Pacific Island dignitaries. Norway has been very instrumental in the setting up of the trust fund.