Fear for ‘sinking island’

Rising sea levels affecting island communities across Papua New Guinea. – Pictures courtesy of CLIVE HAWIGEN/ UNDP in PNG

LIFE for Aromot islanders is very tough today due to rising sea levels caused by climate change.
“Our island is sinking and the land is not as fertile as before,” islander Sipora Nargara said.
“We can hardly cultivate anything here anymore.”
Aromot Island is a tiny atoll off the coast of Umboi Island in the Vitiaz Strait.
“Life on Aromot Island was good, it isn’t the same today,” Nargara said.
“I know we will have to leave and resettle elsewhere on the mainland.
“I have tried, like many others, but we had to return because fishing is our life.
“We find it difficult to adapt to life on the mainland.”
Across the waters in Milne Bay and over to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, people tell of how their lives were impacted by the rising sea level.
To mark this year’s World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) produced a video titled “Bai yumi go we (Where do we go?)” under the theme “climate emergency”.

Life of islanders is very tough due to rising sea levels caused by climate change.

Humanitarian Day focuses global attention on the humanitarian needs of the world’s most vulnerable who are affected by the climate crisis.
In 2009, the world’s richest governments agreed to increase climate-related finance for vulnerable countries to US$100 billion (about K350 billion) annually by 2020.
Under the Paris Agreement, they pledged to negotiate a, yet-higher, amount that would begin from 2025.
Bai yumi go we takes people into the lives of the islander communities in Papua New Guinea.
Early this month, the UNDP team travelled to Morobe, Milne Bay and Bougainville, and filmed the urgent reality of why developed countries needed to deliver on their US$100 billion commitment ahead of COP26 (conference of parties), the UN climate summit in glasgow on Nov 1.
Councillor Essie Awauwa of Budi-Budi Island, Milne Bay, is mulling whether to relocate his community – due to fresh water and land issues from rising sea levels.
“The advantage to resettling is having enough land for the people, good soil to cultivate food crops, and higher ground to keep them safe,” he said, adding that finding a place might mean land conflicts with customary landowners.
According to Milne Bay disaster coordinator Steven Tobessa, the province had more than 600 small islands and atolls. Just 149 are inhabited by 200,000 people.
He anticipates relocations and looks to Bougainville for the solution.
The Carteret Islands villagers in Bougainville are among the first in the world to be relocated due to climate change.