WET FEET MARCHING: CLIMATE JUSTICE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT FOR CLIMATE DISPLACED NATIONS IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC

At the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) held in Berlin in 1995, Atiq
Rahman of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies gave an
impassioned speech to the delegates and warned, “If climate change makes
our country uninhabitable . . . we will march with our wet feet into your
living rooms.”1 Climate change related impacts such as floods, tsunamis,
hurricanes, and drought have already caused millions of people around the
globe to relocate, both temporarily and permanently, within and without
their home countries.2 Never before, however, have climate change related
impacts resulted in the disappearance of a nation and forced its population
to resettle in a foreign country without any possibility of returning to its
homeland. Yet the permanent displacement of a nation due to anthropogenic
climate change may soon become a reality. Despite numerous mitigation
efforts, including building sea walls and planting mangrove trees, rising sea
levels and storm surges have left numerous families on the Carteret Islands
of Papua New Guinea homeless and without adequate food and fresh water
supplies.3 The islands are predicted to be underwater by 2015, earning the
people of the Carterets the notorious distinction as the world’s first climate
“refugees.”
 

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