Pacific voices tell stories of climate change reality in new documentary

A new documentary Subject to Change, a collection of interviews and personal stories from across the Pacific, explores the impact of climate change. Video: MFAT

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Two young women students are the driving force who created a new documentary titled Subject to Change which highlights the climate change challenges faced by Pacific people in the region.

Among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts, Pacific voices are at the heart of the film which has been premiered at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, at the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion.

Producer Amiria Ranfurly, who is of Niuean-New Zealand descent, and Polish director Wiktoria Ojrzyńska, are students of Massey University of New Zealand.

READ MORE: AUT’s Bearing Witness climate change project

The young women chose to showcase climate change in their work because of the impact in the region.

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“We wanted to explore the impacts that climate change is having on our world, and Subject to Change is a documentary film that presents a collection of interviews and personal stories from across the Pacific,” says Ranfurly.

“With passion and determination, we have created a film that shares insight to New Zealand’s response to the global objectives set by the Paris Agreement, alongside intimate stories from the frontline in a truthful and evocative way.”

Documentary producer Amiria Ranfurly (left) and director Wiktoria Ojrzyńska … “intimate frontline climate stories”. Image: COP24 Pacific

Director Ojrzyńska says: “Directing Subject to Change was an amazing storytelling experience, during which I worked with many inspirational people and gained experience across different aspects of filmmaking.”

Collaboration project
Subject to Change
is a collaboration between Massey University and NZ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

Present to launch the film at the premiere was the Ambassador and Climate Change Special Adviser of the Government of New Zealand, with special guest speaker Inia Seruiratu, COP23 High Level Climate Champion of Global Climate Action, and Minister for Defence and National Security of Fiji who introduced the Director and the Producer of the film.

“Climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific,” said Ambassador Stephanie Lee. “Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has described the climate change challenge as the Nuclear-Free Movement of our generation.”

“We have heard about the IPCC 1.5 degrees report and we already knew that it really underlines this challenge as an urgent one. The documentary you are about to see embodies that sense of challenge, but it also embodies a sense of hope,” said Ambassador Lee.

The documentary featured and drew strongly on the perspective of the Fijian people, particularly of those of the small island of Batiki with a population of around 300 people that was hit hardest by Cyclone Winston in February, 2017.

Inia Seruiratu thanked the NZ government and Massey University for supporting the documentary, as well as New Zealand’s support and partnership on the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion where the premiere was being held.

Speaking about his experience as a Pacific islander, Seruiratu thanked the producer, director and the team behind the documentary for producing a powerful medium with which the voices of the vulnerable could be heard.

“People need to see and experience visually the realities others such as those in the Pacific are facing in order to better understand. And this is why this documentary is so important and serves as a great tool,” said Seruiratu.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

40 luxury Maseratis for PNG, but little effort put into climate change

Papua New Guinea has shown unwavering commitment to next month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit with its controversial purchase of 40 Maserati luxury sedans. While preparations for APEC take priority, climate change plans are in crisis, reports Pauline Mago-King of Asia-Pacific Journalism.

Early in March, Papua New Guinea began its chairmanship of next month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit by receiving many senior officials for the opening set of planning meetings.

The lead-up to the APEC summit, expected to become a key opportunity for PNG to unlock its economic potential, has been inundated with talks on trade and investment.

As the smallest and poorest member of APEC, Papua New Guinea has framed its chairmanship as an opportunity to cash in on the digital revolution and its benefits in connectivity and employment.

READ MORE: PNG government faces mounting pressure over Maserati splurge

The chair of APEC Senior Officials, Ambassador Ivan Pomaleu, underlined PNG’s participation in APEC as “leverage” to maintain its domestic policies according to the group.

“The work that has come out of APEC has allowed investors to come on shore and be part of our business community. You really need to think in terms of what sort of structural reform and ease of business activities we’ve been doing and that have made it possible for new investments in PNG. Those are pegged on important APEC principles.” Pomaleu told APEC Bulletin.

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He added that conversations surrounding connectivity, particularly in sustainable development and climate change, were important to PNG.

A month before the summit, however, this agenda has seemingly been neglected with the import of 40 Maserati Quattroporte luxury sedans to be used by APEC leaders.

One of the controversial Maserati cars that have arrived in Papua New Guinea for APEC 2018. The market value is about re[orted;y about K229,000 (NZ$110,000) each. Image: EMTV NewsCondemned purchase
The revelation of the PNG government’s purchase of these vehicles, which range in cost between $209,000 and $345,000 in Australia, has been widely condemned as an example of poor governance at a time when the country faces pressing health, education, law and order, and environmental issues.

While PNG’s APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko has told media that the costs of the Maseratis will be recovered via prospective buyers, this remains to be seen.

A common sight of Papua New Guinean villagers travelling by canoe. Image: Sally Wilson/Pixabay Creative Commons (CC)

While the minister has not disclosed the initial costs of both the fleet and cars, PNG has unveiled plans underway to build a 400 million kina (NZ$180 million) coal-powered plant – a far cry from its attentiveness to sustainable development.

According to the Post-Courier, a memorandum of agreement has been reached “to build a coal-fired power plant in Lae”, Morobe province.

Although this agreement is a step towards meeting the energy needs of Lae consumers, it takes PNG two steps back in its commitment to mitigating climate change.

PNG’s gravitation towards cheap, non-renewable energy such as coal signals a complete disregard of its pledge to the Paris Climate Agreement.

PNG is already experiencing the effects of climate change which can be seen in the need to relocate Carteret Islanders and the dwindling access to clean drinking water, to name a few issues.

Defiant action
Despite these effects and coal being a key driver of climate change, Energy Minister Sam Basil is defiantly going ahead with building the electricity plant.

According to The National, Basil said that PNG had “been denied that right (to burn coal) for a very long time”.

He added that “big nations are not reducing [coal emission]”, thus PNG needs a quota for burning coal to provide cheaper electricity which would subsequently lead to more jobs.

Chris Lahberger from the anti-coal group, Nogat Coal PNG, told Radio NZ that this move was uneconomical despite the developer Mayur Resources’ claims of increased employment and investment in a sustainable research institute.

Although PNG is not the only developing country to have resorted to coal as a source of low-cost electricity, it does have a responsibility to its people considering the Climate Investment Fund’s investment of $25 million.

As reported by Devex, this funding is the largest with a focus on delivering “transformational change in addressing the current and future threats from climate change and related hazards in” PNG.

A snapshot of the Climate Investment Fund’s assistance to PNG indicates a key focus on building resilience in the agriculture sector along with the mitigation of climate extremes.

Climate accountability
Consequently, this begs the question of accountability in climate change aid as plans like the Mayur Resources’ coal-fired power plant are counteractive.

There is a pattern of financial aid being confined to large institutions and governments while communities suffer, as noted by Caritas New Zealand director Julianne Hickey.

“We’ve heard time and time again from the Solomon Islands through to Tonga, to Papua New Guinea, that it is not reaching those who need it most and those who’ve done the least to cause the issues of climate change,” Hickey told Radio NZ.

Apart from PNG’s plan to burn coal for electricity, it has an alarming rate of illegal logging which has adverse effects for its indigenous communities.

According to Global Witness, “tens of thousands of Papua New Guinean people are having their land stolen by their own government”.

PNG’s Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, however, refuted this claim in an interview with Radio NZ.

He emphasised that the PNG government has taken appropriate measures with regard to the illegal logging and that a policy is underway via the Minister for Forests.

Summit talking point
Looking at climate change efforts as a whole, the minister added that it is a talking point for the APEC summit.

“It’s one of the key issues there, and what we’re doing and how the world can connect. That’s why we’ve asked the rest of the Pacific Island countries, their leaders to come so that each of them can tell their story in their own way to the leaders of the world… because the impacts of climate change are unique to each country. It’s not the one and the same.”

Talking point or not, PNG’s implementation efforts are lacking and greater accountability is required of the government.

If PNG’s absence from the High Ambition Coalition is anything to go by, it indicates poor governance to the Papua New Guineans feeling the impact of climate change.

With Fiji and the Marshall Islands leading the way in climate change efforts, PNG’s status as “big brother” not only wanes but projects corruption at its very core.

Pauline Mago-King is a masters student based at Auckland University of Technology and is researching gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea. She compiled this report for the Pacific Media Centre’s Asia-Pacific Journalism Studies course.

Twitter: @iamatalau04

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Most important years in history’ – last chance over climate, says UN report

Warming beyond 1.5C will unleash a frightening set of consequences and scientists say only a global transformation, beginning now, can avoid it. Climate Home News reviews the warnings in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research report released yesterday.

Only the remaking of the human world in a generation can now prevent serious, far reaching and once-avoidable climate change impacts, according to the global scientific community.

In a major report released yesterday, the UN’s climate science body found limiting warming to 1.5C, compared to 2C, would spare a vast sweep of people and life on earth from devastating impacts.

To hold warming to this limit, the scientists said unequivocally that carbon pollution must fall to “net zero” in around three decades: a huge and immediate transformation, for which governments have shown little inclination so far.

READ MORE: Global warming of 1.5C summary for policymakers

GLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5C -THE REPORTGLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5C -THE REPORT

“The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” said Debra Roberts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research into the impacts of warming.

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The report from the IPCC is a compilation of existing scientific knowledge, distilled into a 33-page summary presented to governments. If and how policymakers respond to it will decide the future of vulnerable communities around the world.

“I have no doubt that historians will look back at these findings as one of the defining moments in the course of human affairs,” the lead climate negotiator for small island states Amjad Abdulla said. “I urge all civilised nations to take responsibility for it by dramatically increasing our efforts to cut the emissions responsible for the crisis.”

What happens in the next few months will impact ON the future of the Paris Agreement and the global climate

Abdulla is from the Maldives. It is estimated that half a billion people in countries like his rely on coral ecosystems for food and tourism. The difference between 1.5C and 2C is the difference between losing 70-90 percent of coral by 2100 and reefs disappearing completely, the report found.

Small island states
Small island states were part of a coalition that forced the Paris Agreement to consider both a 1.5C and 2C target. Monday’s report is a response to that dual goal. Science had not clearly defined what would happen at each mark, nor what measures would be necessary to stay at 1.5C.

As the report was finalised, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on sustainable energy Rachel Kyte praised those governments. “They had the sense of urgency and moral clarity,” she said, adding that they knew “the lives that would hang in the balance between 2[C] and 1.5[C]”.

37 things you need to know about 1.5C global warming

At 2C, stresses on water supplies and agricultural land, as well as increased exposure to extreme heat and floods, will increase, risking poverty for hundreds of millions, the authors said.

Thousands of plant and animal species would see their liveable habitat cut by more than half. Tropical storms will dump more rain from the Philippines to the Caribbean.

“Everybody heard of what happened to Dominica last year,” Ruenna Hayes, a delegate to the IPCC from St Kitts and Nevis, told Climate Home News. “I cannot describe the level of absolute alarm that this caused not only me personally, but everybody I know.”

Around 65 people died when Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island in September 2017, destroying much of it.

In laying out what needs to be done, the report described a transformed world that will have to be built before babies born today are middle aged. In that world 70-85 percent of electricity will be produced by renewables.

More nuclear power
There will be more nuclear power than today. Gas, burned with carbon capture technology, will still decline steeply to supply just supply 8 percent of power. Coal plants will be no more. Electric cars will dominate and 35-65 percent of all transport will be low or no-emissions.

To pay for this transformation, the world will have invested almost a trillion dollars a year, every year to 2050.

Our relationship to land will be transformed. To stabilise the climate, governments will have deployed vast programmes for sucking carbon from the air. That will include protecting forests and planting new ones.

It may also include growing fuel to be burned, captured and buried beneath the earth. Farms will be the new oil fields. Food production will be squeezed. Profoundly difficult choices will be made between feeding the world and fuelling it.

The report is clear that this world avoids risks compared to one that warms to 2C, but swerves judgement on the likelihood of bringing it into being. That will be for governments, citizens and businesses, not scientists, to decide.

During the next 12 months, two meetings will be held at which governments will be asked to confront the challenge in this report: this year’s UN climate talks in Poland and at a special summit held by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres in September 2019.

The report’s authors were non-committal about the prospects. Jim Skea, a co-chair at the IPCC, said: “Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

Graphic from the IPCC’s special report on 1.5C.

‘Monumental goal’
Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a former lead author of the IPCC, said: “If this report doesn’t convince each and every nation that their prosperity and security requires making transformational scientific, technological, political, social and economic changes to reach this monumental goal of staving off some of the worst climate change impacts, then I don’t know what will.”

The scientist have offered a clear prescription: the only way to avoid breaching the 1.5C limit is for humanity to cut its CO2 emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net-zero” by around 2050.

But global emissions are currently increasing, not falling.

The EU, one of the most climate progressive of all major economies, aims for a cut of around 30 percent by 2030 compared to its own 2010 pollution and 77-94 percent by 2050. It is currently reviewing both targets and says this report will inform the decisions.

If the EU sets a carbon neutral goal for 2050 it will join a growing group of governments seemingly in line with a mid-century end to carbon – including California (2045), Sweden (2045), UK (2050 target under consideration) and New Zealand (2050).

But a fundamental tenet of climate politics is that expectations on nations are defined by their development. If the richest, most progressive economies on earth set the bar at 2045-2050, where will China, India and Latin America end up? If the EU aims for 2050, the report concludes that Africa will need to have the same goal.

Some of the tools needed are available, they just need scaling up. Renewable deployment would need to be six times faster than it is today, said Adnan Z Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. That was “technically feasible and economically attractive”, he added.

Innovation, social change
Other aspects of the challenge require innovation and social change.

But just when the world needs to go faster, the political headwinds in some nations are growing. Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest, looks increasingly likely to elect the climate sceptic Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The world’s second-largest emitter – the US – immediately distanced itself from the report, issuing a statement that said its approval of the summary “should not be understood as US endorsement of all of the findings and key messages”.

It said it still it intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The summary was adopted by all governments at a closed-door meeting between officials and scientists in Incheon, South Korea that finished on Saturday. The US sought and was granted various changes to the text. Sources said the interventions mostly helped to refine the report. But they also tracked key US interests – for example, a mention of nuclear energy was included.

Sources told CHN that Saudi Arabia fought hard to amend a passage that said investment in fossil fuel extraction would need to fall by 60 percent between 2015 and 2050. The clause does not appear in the final summary.

But still, according to three sources, the country has lodged a disclaimer with the report, which will not be made public for months. One delegate said it rejected “a very long list of paragraphs in the underlying report and the [summary]”.

Republished under a Creative Commons licence.

A Nasa satellite photo showing the retreating extent of sea ice in the Arctic. The latest IPCC climate change report says unprecedented action is needed to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C. Image: IPCC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Climate change advocacy calls for more ‘action’ response to Ardern’s UN plea

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently addressed the UN General Assembly about the reality of climate change in the Pacific, and the threat inaction holds for the island nations. Maxine Jacobs reports for Asia Pacific Journalism that while climate and energy commentators welcome her leadership, they call for an even stronger “action” approach.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s challenge to United Nations members last month to reflect on the impact climate change is having on the Pacific has been welcomed by social justice advocates.

But they would like to see the rhetoric matched by even stronger action to give the world its “best shot”.

The Prime Minister spoke of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands as the Pacific’s most at risk nations which have contributed least to global emissions but are facing the full force of their consequences.

ASIA-PACIFIC JOURNALISM STUDIES – APJS NEWSFILE

“Our actions in the wake of this global challenge remains optional, But the impact of inaction does not,” she told the UN.

“If my Pacific neighbours do not have the option of opting out of the effects of climate change, why should we be able to opt out of taking action to stop it?”

Ardern said that in the South Pacific there was a reality of rising sea levels, increases in extreme weather events and negative impacts on water supply and agriculture.

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“For those who live in the South Pacific, the impacts of climate change are not academic, or even arguable.

‘Grinding reality’
“We can talk all we like about the science and what it means … but there is a grinding reality in hearing someone from a Pacific island talk about where the sea was when they were a child, and potential loss of their entire village as an adult.”


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s speech at the United Nations. Video: UN

Although New Zealand represents less than 0.2 percent of global emissions, the Prime Minister then vowed to “play our part” in continuing to decrease in emissions and support the global climate change battle.

Goals have been set of:

• 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2035;
• zero emissions by 2050;
• a halt on offshore oil and gas exploration permits;
• a green infrastructure fund to encourage innovation, and
• a 10-year plan to plan one billion trees.

“These plans are unashamedly ambitious [but] the threat climate change poses demands it.”

Real commitment
A few days before her address to the UN in New York, the Prime Minister announced a $100 million increase to its global climate finance – an increase from $200 million, which will be spread in $25 million blocks over four years.

The Prime Minister said the additional funding would focus on practical action, helping Pacific states to build resilience and adapt to climate change.

“The focus of this financial support is on creating new areas of growth and opportunity for Pacific communities. We want to support our Pacific neighbours to make transition to a low carbon economy without hurting their existing economic base.”

The Prime Minister said she planned to bring greater attention to the impact of climate change alongside Pacific leaders and ensure global awareness of the cost of inaction.

“We recognise our neighbours in the Pacific region are uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“We have a responsibility to care for the environment in which we live, but the challenge of climate change requires us to look beyond our domestic boarders.”

Communications accounts manager for the Ministry for the Environment, Karen Goldsworthy, says two thirds of the global climate funding would be going towards Pacific nations to help adapt to their warming climate.

“We recognise that New Zealand alone cannot fix the challenge climate change poses to our region: it is a global problem that requires a global solution.

“New Zealand will continue to work actively to contribute to an effective global response to climate change through which Pacific resilience improves … and lose work more widely to encourage ambition through our leadership.”

A global model
Renewable energy and climate change consultant Dr Bob Lloyd, a former director of energy studies at Otago University, says New Zealand’s commitment to climate change is a show of leadership to the rest of the world of what is achievable.

Lloyd called New Zealand a small-scale model of what can be achieved on a global scale, however this issue is one which cannot be resolved by one small nation.

“It’s up to countries like Australia, New Zealand, Europe and unfortunately the US to bring their emissions down.

“The big dilemma at the moment is that a lot of the poor countries want to increase their emissions and they’re not going to consider bringing their emissions down unless the big countries bring their emissions down first.

“The other onus is on the rich countries to actually help the poor countries come down, which means they need to transfer money to them to achieve their goals.”

Lloyd said the extra $100 million from New Zealand towards the global climate change fund was a good effort but would not have a huge impact. To achieve emissions reductions, developing countries would need trillions of dollars.

“The amounts of money which are needed just for the Pacific region – which are tiny compared to the rest of the world – are enormous,” he said.

Putting over ideas
Although Lloyd, a self-proclaimed pessimist, thinks the world would not be able to outrun climate change he does not want to stop people from giving it their “best shot”.

“Without some countries trying, then the poorer countries and other countries will give up completely, so I think it’s extremely good that Jacinda is putting these ideas over and they’re trying to help as much as possible.

“She’s doing a remarkable effort. It’s also enthusing government. I was pleasantly surprised at how much influence Jacinda and the Labour Party is having on both New Zealand and internationally.”

Dr Kevin Clements, the foundation professor of Otago University’s National Centre for Peace  and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) and current director of the Japan-based Toda Peace Institute, says the Prime Minister’s plea for climate change awareness has powerful emotional and normative appeal, but at the end of the day it is a numbers game.

“Every little bit helps. New Zealand’s voice on its own isn’t going to change Donald Trump or the behaviours of the major US multinational companies, but on the other hand it’s all part of creating a normative order which acknowledges the centrality of climate change and what it’s doing to us.”

Dr Clements says the Pacific is feeling the brunt of global emissions and has little capacity to do anything about it. However, the moral weight of New Zealand and the South Pacific can help larger nations become more proactive.

The Prime Minister advocating for climate change issues humanises her, says Dr Clements, but she needs to be stronger to be seen as a serious political leader on these issues.

“She really needs to make sure she’s coupling her soft power appeal and her own personal charisma with some hard-headed arguments and evidence based research so she is seen both as a wonderful human being but equally as a hard-headed negotiator on the issues that matter.”

Maxine Jacobs is a postgraduate student journalist on the Asia Pacific Journalism Studies course at AUT University.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Listen to Pacific ‘voices’ or climate will spark conflict, say advocates

Policy makers, academics and NGO representatives discussed the urgent issue of climate change in the Pacific, where many communities have been forced to relocate. However, Michael Andrew of Asia Pacific Report, found that participants in last weekend’s workshop believe the Pacific voices of those most affected must be heard if conflict is to be avoided.

The gap between policy and people was a key topic at the last week’s Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop when experts from Western and Pacific countries gathered to share stories and studies.

The Auckland event – hosted by the Toda Peace Institute and the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) at the University of Otago – sought to bridge the gap by connecting Western, scientific policies with the deeply spiritual customs and beliefs of Pacific life.

Workshop facilitator and Toda director Professor Kevin Clements, who is also founding director of NCPACS, says it is an opportunity to understand Pacific perspectives and respond creatively to an existential threat.

READ MORE: The climate change workshop and policy papers

ASIA-PACIFIC JOURNALISM STUDIES – APJS NEWSFILE

“We in New Zealand and Australia have a deep responsibility to listen,” he says.

“If we don’t understand the Pacific way of thinking, we will begin to undermine relationships in unanticipated, unconscious ways.”

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Relationships were a major theme throughout the workshop, with many participants affirming the unique relationship Pacific people have with their land.

Vanua philosophy
Fijian teacher Rosiana Kushila Lagi says the traditional Fiji philosophy of Vanua reflects the absolute interconnectedness between people, land and sea.

Working in Tuvalu, Lagi is engaging communities to use the principals of Vanua to mitigate the destruction caused by climate change. The behaviour of animals, plants and the weather are all useful indicators of environmental change and can be used to prepare for extreme events.

However, she says many communities are losing this traditional knowledge when they are physically separated from the land, something that also contributes to a loss of identity.

Participants of the Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop in Auckland last weekend. Image: Lynley Brown

Tuvaluan minister Tafue Lusama shared a similar perspective, stressing the importance of traditional knowledge in the Tuvalu way of life.

“Indigenous knowledge is the way we focus our relationship to everything, to the land, to the sea, to each other and to all living things,” he says.

“It is our way to communicate with the clouds, birds, plants, animals; this includes communicating with the spirits of our ancestors.”

With an average height of 2m above sea level, Tuvalu is particularly vulnerable to the affects of climate change. Rising sea levels not only threaten property but also food and water sources.

Storm surges
Storm surges can sweep inland, flooding deep-rooted crops like taro and coconut and contaminating fresh water reservoirs.

Yet for many communities who have already relocated, the struggles of adjusting to a new home can be just as harsh.

Discussed at the workshop were the people from the diminishing Carteret Islands, who in recent years have been relocated to land donated by the Catholic Church on mainland Bougainville.

Managed by grassroots organisation Tulele Peisa, the initiative sees every family given a hectare of land on which they can live and grow crops for trade and sustenance.

While the relocation project has been considered successful, there are concerns for the Cataract Islanders living in a region recovering from a bloody civil war over the Panguna copper mine. Even today, violence is widespread.

According to Volker Boege, a peace and conflict academic who has worked extensively in the region, there have been reports of attacks on the Carteret Islanders and their property.

He says this has a lot to do with tribal competition over limited land, much of which is customary.

Establishing relationships
“Before the relocation, Tulele Peisa put in a lot of work establishing relationships with the Bougainville community and engaging in discussions with the chiefs. Nevertheless, land is scarce,” Boege says.

“The policies don’t take into account the complexities between the indigenous people and the fighting that can occur between tribes when relocated.”

Despite predictions that the Carteret Islands will be completely underwater by 2040, he says some of the people are choosing to return home from Bougainville.

For these people giving up home, identity and starting a new life in a foreign land is simply too much to ask.

While other Pacific communities are on the list for relocation, there was a commitment among the workshop participants to factor in the values, customs and wishes of both the relocating and the receiving communities into any polices moving forward.

Future collaboration between the many organisations present would also allow an inclusive, dynamic approach where information could be easily shared from the top down and vice versa, connecting the grassroots to the researchers and policy makers.

Ideal outcome
For Paulo Baleinakorodawa, this was an ideal outcome of the workshop. As operations manager of Fiji-based NGO Transcend Oceania, he has worked extensively with relocated and relocating communities, resolving conflict and trying to make the process as peaceful as possible.

However, he says that plans for cross-organisation collaboration have stalled prior to the workshop.

“I was hoping that coming in here I would find an opportunity to actually push that into more actions,” he says.

“It’s been wonderful because there has been a lot of information, a lot of networking and commitment from people that are actually doing something about climate change.”

“And so now Toda, Transcend Oceania, the Pacific Conference of Churches, and the Pacific Centre for Peace Building are going to be partnering together to continue that project.”

While climate change and its affects will only continue to worsen, the workshop was an encouraging show of unity and compassion that will be needed if further suffering in Pacific is to be prevented.

Most importantly, it opened an essential conversation in which the many different voices could be heard.

“This is only the beginning of that conversation,” says Baleinakorodawa.

Michael Andrew is a student journalist on the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Journalism) reporting on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.

Professor Kevin Clements facilitating the Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific workshop. Image: Michael Andrew/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Banabans of Rabi short climate change documentary chosen for Nuku’alofa

The trailer for Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom’s short Bearing Witness documentary. Video: Banabans of Rabi

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

A short documentary, Banabans of Rabi – A Story of Survival, by Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom of Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre, has been selected for the 2018 Nuku’alofa Film Festival in Tonga next month.

This is a film produced out of the three-year-old Bearing Witness climate change project, a research and publication collaboration between the PMC and its documentary partner Te Ara Motuhenga, and the Pacific Centre for Environment-Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) and the Regional Journalism Programme at the University of the South Pacific.

Banabans of Rabi: A story of Survival.

According to the filmmakers: “During the Second World War, the inhabitants of the island of Banaba were forcibly displaced to Rabi Island in Fiji due to phosphate mining by the British Phosphate Commission.

“The island of Banaba was decimated and the Banabans had to start afresh in Rabi. The documentary follows the people in Rabi and sheds light into the problems that they face now, especially with climate change.”

Film maker Blessen Tom said on the documentary’s Facebook page: “It’s an amazing news for all of us. The festival will be the first time the full documentary is screened in public.

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“Super excited for the Pacific screening. If you’re in Tonga on November 22-23, be sure to visit us.”

Documentary maker and senior lecturer Jim Marbrook said: “This is great and it’s a very cool first step,” adding that plans should be made for other film festival entries.

Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie said: “This is a tremendous achievement for starters and a reward for the really hard work that Blessen and Hele have put into making this quality and inspirational doco.”

The 2018 Nuku’alofa Film Festival.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific storytelling with a focus on the ignored and ‘untold’ issues

A video made by an AUT screen production graduate, Sasya Wreksono, marking the 10th anniversary of the Pacific Media Centre. Video: PMC

PROFILE: By Craig Major of AUT News

​Based at Auckland University of Technology, the Pacific Media Centre is a small team dedicated to telling stories from across the Pacific that you won’t read anywhere else.

Established in 2007 by Professor David Robie in AUT’s School of Communication Studies, the centre focuses on postgraduate research projects and publications that impact on indigenous communities across the Pacific.

“We’re a small team, but the scope of what we cover is phenomenal,” Dr Robie explains. “As researchers and reporters, we look at the repercussions that big issues like climate change, human rights violations and press freedom have on these small communities in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The team are active publishers, managing several platforms including the Pacific Media Watch and Asia Pacific Report news websites, the half-yearly academic research journal Pacific Journalism Review and its companion Pacific Journalism Monographs, the blog Niusblog and Toktok, a quarterly newsletter.

The centre has also secured a media partnership with Radio New Zealand – the first content-sharing arrangement between a New Zealand university and a news organisation – and hosts the weekly Southern Cross radio programme on 95bFM.

Some of the Pacific Media Centre team: Sri Krishnamurthi (from left), Blessen Tom, Leilani Sitagata, Associate Professor Camille Nakhid, Professor David Robie and Del Abcede. Image: Craig Major/AUT

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Dr Robie, along with Advisory Board chair Associate Professor Camille Nakhid, sees the centre as having a strong advocacy role across the Pacific and further afield.

“I think it is a real strength of the PMC that the team can find issues in the Pacific that just aren’t covered in the mainstream New Zealand media, then explore them and report on them with authority and conviction,” Dr Robie says.

Beyond a travel brochure
“The team is skilled in identifying issues that are beyond the scope of what the public sees in a travel brochure.”

Dr Nakhid echoes this sentiment. “New Zealand’s media can be very insular when reporting on what is happening in the Pacific – even though there is so much happening right outside our doorstep.”

Internally the team takes a cross-discipline approach, working closely with students and staff in the School of Communication Studies (particularly Te Ara Motuhenga, the documentary collective) and the School of Social Sciences.

The centre also has international partnerships, such as with the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, and maintains close ties to Pacific communities based in New Zealand – and are sure to collaborate with community groups for events and seminars.

“Pacific Media Centre organised a seminar about the refugee situation in Myanmar recently,” recalls publications designer Del Abcede. “Through talking to the Burmese citizens that we had invited, we discovered a range of issues that only came to light in the mainstream after the Myanmar election.”

PMC reporting staff – mostly postgraduate students – are encouraged to uncover and explore the issues that interest them.

“Working with the PMC has been very illuminating,” says Sri Krishnamurthi, a postgraduate student who has covered Fiji-based news for PMC, and has interviewed two of the three party heads hoping to win Fiji’s general election next month.

“I have a background in communications and journalism, but doing this kind of reporting has been a real eye-opener,” says Krishnamurthi, a Fiji-born journalist who worked with the NZ Press Association for 17 years.

Film festival screening
And just this week two students from the centre, Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom, have had their Bearing Witness climate change documentary, Banabans of Rabi, accepted for screening at the 2018 Nuku’alofa Film Festival.

The trailer of Banabans of Rabi, a short documentary on climate change accepted by the 2018 Nuku’alofa Film Festival. Video: BOR

The freedom to pursue stories in the region is an opportunity for Dr Robie and the team.

“Students that work with us learn so much – and there really is no underestimation of their abilities,” Dr Robie said.

“Not only that, it promotes media and journalism as a viable career path for Pacific students, and leads to opportunities for international journalism projects.”

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Adaptation, mitigation and relocation – only Pacific choices, says academic

Pacific climate change challenges … tough choices. Image: PMC File

By Rahul Bhattarai

A leading academic on peace research issues has called for increased policy making efforts to face up to the challenges of Pacific “relocation” at a weekend conference of global climate and conflict researchers.

“A major conflict-creating component of climate change in the Pacific is the forced reallocation of people,” said Professor Kevin Clements, founding director of Otago University’s National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) and also secretary-general of the Tokyo-based Toda Peace Institute.

“Pacific nations only have three choices – adaptation, mitigation and relocation,” he said.

READ MORE: Climate change and security big focus for Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru

Climate change scholars from around the world gathered at the University of Otago’s Auckland Centre over the weekend to discuss interrelationships between climate change and conflict.

Pacific Island nations are in the front line of global climate change crises, raising sea level and “drowning” lands are forcing thousands of islanders to relocate far away from their homelands and atolls.

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This forced reallocation created a fertile ground for conflict in the other Pacific nations, Professor Clements said.

Existential challenge
Failure to make the needed changes in time would impose an “inevitable existential challenge to us all”.

Failure to adapt or mitigate the negative effects of climate change would ultimately result in forced relocations, “forcing people from your own land unto other people’s land and so that’s really beginning to be a major conflict creator in Fiji.”

“Climate change is a major existential challenge for everybody,” Professor Clements said.

Policy makers still had no solid plan to deal with conflict created by climate change.

Dealing with the issues of climate change and conflict was one of the questions which were difficult to answer.

“How do states and peoples create spaces of inevitable migration of people of these countries,” asked Professor Clements.

“Every Pacific nation has been challenged by a combination of elevated sea level and king tides.”

Significant challenge
Having these two combinations posed a significant challenge to the local environment.

“Arable land diminishes, and water quality diminishes as it becomes more saline, and with global warming is also challenging and declining fish resources,” he said.

“Pacific Island countries need to ask themselves, what do they need to adapt these new challenges How can they mitigate their effects and, if they can’t do that, where will they go?” Professor Clements said.

Dr Bob Lloyd, a climate change consultant for Pacific countries, said it was “extremely difficult” to make the public aware of the gravity of climate change.

This was because “people don’t listen” and people complained that there was a disconnect between the scientists and prejudiced knowledge that local communities had.

“When you talk to communities about the problem and give them the solutions and they don’t want to listen because solutions involve considerable social and economic deprivation,” he said.

One way climate change could be minimised was through reduced use of short and long-distance transportation as the Pacific used an enormous amount of air transport for commuting, he said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed during her United Nations diplomacy mission last week that the government was looking into tweaking the recently announced increase of refugees quota from 1500 from 1000 by 2020 to focus on climate refugees, reports Newshub.

Rahul Bhattarai is a Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student journalist who is a reporter on the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Joanne Wallis: Australia needs to sing from same song sheet as Pacific

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne … hamstrung at the PIF summit in Nauru this week by Australia’s hypocritical policies. Image: Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

By Joanne Wallis in Nauru

Australia’s new Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne probably envied New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s welcome at this week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting in Nauru this week.

During the leaders’ retreat lunch break on Wednesday, Nauru President Baron Waqa joined a group of local elders to serenade Ardern with a song titled “Aotearoa our friend, Jacinda new star in the sky’”.

Payne was never going to be described in such warm terms. After just over a week in the job, she had to convince Pacific leaders that Australia remained committed to being the region’s “principal security partner” when the new prime minister, Scott Morrison, had chosen not to attend.

READ MORE: Australia to improve Pacific access to security information

49th PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM COMMUNIQUE

Morrison’s absence, and his non-appearance at the April 2018 Forum Economic Ministers’ meeting, suggest that Australia’s continued claims about prioritising the region might be more hyperbole than fact.

The PM’s failure to attend this week’s gathering also undermines Australia’s claimed recognition of the importance of building people-to-people links.

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Although Payne is the person in Cabinet most likely to continue Julie Bishop’s positive approach to the region as foreign minister, she was hamstrung at the meeting by Australia’s hypocritical policies.

The centrepiece of Wednesday’s leaders’ meeting was the signing of the Boe Declaration, designed to update the 2000 Biketawa Declaration on regional security.

The Boe Declaration articulates an “expanded concept of security inclusive of human security, humanitarian assistance, prioritising environmental security, and regional cooperation in building resilience to disasters and climate change”. It’s a sad irony that this commitment to “human security” was signed only kilometres from Australia’s offshore processing centre where the human rights of refugees are regularly violated.

This expanded concept of security also highlights the different priorities of Australia and its Pacific Island neighbours. Australia is focused on strategic concerns, particularly the increasingly crowded and complex geopolitics of the region, which has negative effects in the Pacific islands.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi warned in a speech in Sydney last week that the region is “seeing invasion and interest in the form of strategic manipulation”.

“The big powers,” he declared, “are doggedly pursuing strategies to widen and extend their reach and inculcating a far-reaching sense of insecurity.”

The biggest challenge facing Payne was the reality of Australia’s climate change policies. The Boe Declaration identifies climate change as “the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific” and reaffirms forum members’ “commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement”.

Payne faced a tough job convincing Pacific leaders that Australia is genuinely committed to meaningful action on climate change when her prime minister is a known advocate for coal-fired power and the government refuses to adopt an explicit strategy to meet its Paris Agreement targets.

There is scope for Australia to improve its relationships in the region. For example, the Boe Declaration reaffirms forum members’ commitment to the idea of the “Blue Pacific”, which is intended to highlight the “collective potential of our shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean”.

Australia already does valuable and valued work to help Pacific island states protect their ocean territories through its Pacific Maritime Security Programme, under which it provides patrol boats and personnel to regional states. It’s now looking to bolster that with expanded aerial surveillance, with a particular focus on fisheries and, increasingly, undersea natural resource management.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern … serenaded at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru. Image: RNZ/New Zealand Herald/Pool

The wider understanding of security outlined in the declaration also specifies “humanitarian assistance” as a priority. Australia is already the primary provider of humanitarian and disaster relief (alongside New Zealand), which it can continue and expand.

The declaration identifies “transnational crime” as another priority, an area in which Australia provides significant support and which is likely to be enhanced when the proposed Australia Pacific Security College is established to train security and law enforcement officials.

The declaration specifically mentions the need to “improve coordination among existing security mechanisms”, which is likely to be assisted by Australia’s proposed Pacific Fusion Centre to connect regional security agencies.

And the declaration highlights the need to promote the “prosperity of Pacific people”, to which Payne’s signing this week in Nauru of agreements with Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to join the Pacific Labour Scheme (Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu are already members) will hopefully make a contribution.

However, this week’s forum leaders’ meeting again highlighted the counterproductive nature of Australia’s approach to the Pacific islands.

Bishop worked hard to build bridges with the region when she was foreign minister, and was instrumental in formulating Australia’s policy of “stepping up” its engagement with the Pacific islands, but those positive developments are undermined by Australia’s declared policy positions.

While it’s unlikely that Payne (or any Australian leader) will be serenaded by Pacific leaders soon, Australia at least needs to be singing from the same song sheet as the region, particularly when it comes to climate change.

Joanne Wallis is a senior lecturer at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University and the author of Pacific power? Australia’s strategy in the Pacific Islands.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

From rags to riches to rags again – the Forum’s hidden cost for Nauru

A child in Australia’s Nauru detention centre. Image: SBS/World Vision

ANALYSIS: By Dr Crosbie Walsh

Nauru hosts the Pacific Islands Forum — whose membership includes Australia, New Zealand and 16 Pacific Islands nations — from today until Wednesday when lofty ideas may help soften present realities.

The island, 56km south of the Equator and thousands of kilometres from anywhere else, is 21 km in size and its population is 11,000, 40 percent of whom have type 2 diabetes, 90 percent are unemployed and 94 percent obese – the highest rate in the world.

The island’s recent history is one of rags to riches and rags again.

READ MORE: Nauru faces media, security pressure ahead of Pacific Islands Forum

For most of the past century millions of tonnes of phosphate from bird droppings were mined and exported as fertiliser to Australia and New Zealand, leaving much of the area barren.

In 1970, the British Phosphate Commission handed over control to the Nauru government. Mining increased, briefly making Nauru the second most wealthy nation on earth based on GDP per capita, second only to the United Arab Emirates.

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Most of the phosphate was extracted through strip mining which leaves the earth largely barren, infertile, and unable to sustain plant life.

Currently, about 90 percent of the island is covered in jagged and exposed heaps of petrified coral, which is unsuitable for both building and agriculture. Additionally, runoff from mining sites has left the water in and around Nauru severely contaminated.

About 90 percent of Nauru is covered in jagged and exposed heaps of petrified coral … unsuitable for both building and agriculture. Image: CWB

Marine pollution
Researchers estimate that approximately 40 percent of the marine life has been lost due to this pollution. Additionally, the only remaining phosphate on the island would not produce a profit if mined.

In 1989, Nauru took Australia to the International Court of Justice over its actions during its administration of Nauru, and particularly its failure to remedy the environmental damage caused by phosphate mining.

An out-of-court settlement rehabilitated some of the mined-out areas. By 2000 no marketable phosphate remained.

An out-of-court settlement rehabilitated some of the mined-out areas on Nauru. By 2000 no marketable phosphate remained. Image: CWB

In 1993, the government won a legal case against Australia for its mismanagement. The reparations have been used for restoration projects, one of which is a detention centre for more than 1000 refugees seeking asylum in Australia.

Some have called Nauru an Australian “client state.”

Since then, the political and economic situation has worsened. The phosphate trust fund was mismanaged (thanks largely to the influence of a modern beachcomber) and most of its assets lost.

Corruption is reported as rampant. Searching desperately for an income, government
briefly facilitated and condoned money laundering, and now relies heavily on aid and income from the Australian refugee detention centre where conditions have been reported as “akin to torture”.

Disturbing report
This BBC report on the effects on refugee children is especially disturbing.

Both governments have kept the injustices perpetrated against these refugees quiet by limiting access to the island.

A media visa costs $8000, taking pictures inside the detention centre is forbidden; so is carrying a smart phone with a camera.

In 2015, Australia passed the Australian Border Force Act, which makes speaking out about the conditions inside its camps on Nauru, and Manus in PNG, punishable by a two-year prison sentence.

It will be interesting to see how both governments, and other members of the Pacific Islands Forum, including New Zealand that benefited greatly from Nauru phosphates, handle questions over the next two days — and whether the NGOs present ask the right ones.

Dr Croz Walsh is a retired development studies professor at the University of the South Pacific. In his blog, he comments on New Zealand, Fiji, and Pacific Islands issues of political and social interest.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media