High-level meeting on Migration and Climate Change, United Nations, New York

  • Hon Aupito William Sio
Pacific Peoples

We acknowledge that the subject of this event can be highly sensitive, and we understand and respect the reasons why this can be a delicate issue for people in our region. Ideally, countries of the world would be rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to ensure that people do not need to move because of climate change.

In the Pacific, climate change-related mobility is, so far, limited to internal movements, such as people moving inland away from rising sea levels and coastal hazards. That’s what we would expect, given the passionate desire of Pacific peoples to not be forced to leave their homes, their communities, their countries, and their land and sea.

While there is a longer-term prospect of Pacific people having to move across international borders, New Zealand’s focus at this time is supporting the Pacific to: have a deeper understanding of the risks and challenges; adapt to the changes that might otherwise force people to move; and support communities who are relocating within countries.

Our work is underpinned by Pacific Leaders’ recognition of “the importance of retaining the Pacific’s social and cultural identity; and the desire of Pacific peoples to continue to live in their own countries, where possible”. Our work will also respect and uphold Pacific Island countries’ right to self-determination and the need for transparent, inclusive dialogue on Pacific climate mobility domestically, regionally and internationally, advocating for Pacific priorities.