Relocating Culture

A growing Problem | Disappearing Islands    

cropped-Relocating-Culture-Image-blog.jpgIn 2005, the Island of Tegua, with inhabitants numbering around 100, became the first population declared as official “climate change refugees”, a designation assigned by the United Nations. 10 years later, it is evident that this phenomenon will be a recurring travesty in the struggle against accelerated climate change and rapid sea level rise. Thousands of islands around the world are in danger of disappearing or becoming uninhabitable due to tidal inundation and sea level rise over the next 100 years. This stark reality will mean a rapid increase in the number of climate change refugees on a global scale and the need for feasible, desirable and effective relocation strategies.

While climate change refugees resulting from sea level rise are not unique to island nations, these populations are distinct in the fact that they typically do not have any domestic evacuation or relocation options. The rising of the sea level quite literally means the complete loss of the nation itself, and quite possibly the culture and customs of the inhabitants. As largescale engineering solutions or immediately effective SLR mitigation measures may be unlikely or impractical in many locations, what alternatives exist to facilitate the intact relocation of entire cultures when island nations fall under immediate and unwavering treat? Who should foot the bill? What parties are ultimately responsible? Where can they go? Where do they want to go? These are not easy questions to answer.

Establishing a template for funding, facilitating, and governing the effective relocation of island nations without sacrificing the unique culture that makes these places so vibrant would be a critical tool in the ongoing struggle of climate change adaptation.  A successful system could potential benefit millions of island inhabitants in danger of displacement.


At-Risk Island Nations | High Vulnerability

  • Island(s):Kiribati Islands (32)| Population: 102,697 | Location: 1,200 miles south of Hawaii
  • Island(s):Maldives (1,100)| Population: 425,000 | Location: SW of India
  • Island(s):Seychelles (115)| Population: 87,122 | Location: Western Indian Ocean
  • Island(s):Torres Strait Islands (274)| Population: 8,000 | Location: Between Australia & New Guinea
  • Island(s):Tegua (1)| Population: 100 | Location: Torres Straits
  • Island(s):Solomon Islands (992)| Population: 584,978 | Location: East of Papua New Guinea
  • Island(s):Marshall islands (1,156)| Population: 52,634 | Location: Micronesia
  • Island(s):Micronesia (607)| Population: 102,624 | Location: East of the Philippines
  • Island(s):Palau (250)| Population: 20,000 | Location: Southeast of the Philippines
  • Island(s):Carteret Islands | Population: 2,500 | Location: Southwest Pacific Ocean

Island(s): Tuvalu (9)| Population: 11,636 | Location: East of Solomon Islands

Photo source is: Flickr/sidsnet

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