WWF Calls for Greater Climate Change Support as Pacific Island Communities Flood

Posted on 08 December 2021

WWF expressed concern for Pacific Island communities experiencing king tide flooding made worse by climate change.

Joan Maima, Country Manager, WWF Pacific, PNG Country Office said there are concerns for many communities. “Manus Island is badly affected with a lot of families displaced. East Sepik, West Sepik, New Ireland and Madang have also been hit hard. We are gathering information on the situation in other provinces.”

According to the IPCC’s special report on the ocean and cryosphere, global warming contributed to the sea level rising globally by 15cm in the 20th century, it is currently rising more than twice as fast and accelerating, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.

The Pacific is witnessing this now with tens of thousands of lives impacted in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and other smaller island nations across the region.

Sea level rise, combined with seasonal king tides, changes to wind patterns and sea surges – all exacerbated by global warming – are swamping and destroying homes and displacing communities.

Homes, food gardens, crops, and fresh water sources are being inundated.

Rachel Sapery James, Blue Pacific Programs Manager for WWF-Australia has Papua New Guinean heritage and grew up on New Ireland Island which has been impacted.

“This is the reality of climate change right now for our nearest Pacific Island neighbours. The Pacific Island Region and its people have contributed the least to the global climate emergency yet are experiencing the brunt of direct impacts. December king tides are worsening. Some communities say this year’s king tides are the worst ever experienced,” said James.

“Global pandemic impacts have seriously undermined our Pacific Island neighbours’ businesses, especially tourism – now this serious inundation adds to their hardship. The world needs to act with even greater urgency to mitigate climate change and support adaptation across the Pacific.  

“The Pacific punches above its weight in advocating for global climate action and Pacific communities have a wealth of knowledge that can help all of us adapt to a changing climate. As the Pacific Climate Warriors remind us, our neighbours are not drowning they are fighting and the international community needs to do everything possible to help them win the fight,” said James.

WWF said the world needs to build on COP26 commitments – including the recognition of nature as being key to climate solutions – and take action to reduce impacts on nature, both marine and terrestrial. Bold steps must be taken to advance climate adaptation and mitigation mechanisms through nature-based solutions and emissions reductions.
Coastal inundation in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea
© Tini John/New Ireland Provincial Government News