Originally aired on August 9, 2023
In this episode of the Wondros Podcast, hosts Jesse and Priscilla interview Yu Ping Chan, the head of Rising Nations Initiative Secretariat at the United Nations’ Global Center for Climate Mobility. The interview focuses on the challenges faced by Pacific Islands due to climate change and rising sea levels. Yu Ping Chan discusses the potential impact on the islands, the loss of land and culture, and the urgent need for action. The conversation highlights the importance of raising awareness, preserving culture and heritage, and holding governments accountable for their commitments to combat climate change.
The Vulnerabilities of Pacific Islands:
- Pacific Islands, such as Tuvalu, are at the forefront of the climate crisis and face imminent existential threats.
- Rising sea levels are causing flooding, rendering parts of the islands uninhabitable.
- The islands’ small landmass and low elevation make them extremely susceptible to the impacts of climate change.
Preservation of Culture and Heritage:
- The connection between Pacific Islanders and their land is deeply rooted in their culture and heritage.
- Climate change poses a significant challenge to preserving their traditions, as the islands face the possibility of complete submersion.
- Efforts are being made to create digital repositories and online platforms to safeguard cultural artifacts, records, and traditions.
Impacts on People and Communities:
- Movement of people due to climate change is becoming a reality for Pacific Islanders.
- The loss of land and the need to relocate can have devastating effects on communities and their social fabric.
- The connections and communal gatherings integral to their culture become difficult to maintain when people are forced to move away.
The Role of International Support:
- The International Community has been slow to respond adequately to the climate crisis faced by Pacific Islands.
- The Rising Nations Initiative aims to raise awareness of the situation and garner support for these vulnerable communities.
- Holding developed countries accountable for their commitments, addressing loss and damage, and providing financial support are crucial steps in assisting Pacific Islanders.
The Urgency of Action:
- The urgency of reducing carbon emissions and mitigating global warming cannot be overstated.
- Projections for the future indicate catastrophic impacts on Pacific Islands, necessitating immediate action to change the current trajectory.
- Awareness, activism, and governmental accountability are key components in addressing the climate crisis and supporting vulnerable communities.
Exploring Solutions and Future Scenarios:
- Potential solutions include exploring legal associations or treaties with other countries to facilitate movement while preserving cultural identity.
- Technology and digital platforms offer opportunities to preserve culture, heritage, and community connections.
- The engagement of civil society, artists, researchers, and international organizations is essential in supporting the Pacific Islands and advocating for action.