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Addressing Climate Change Migration and Human Security in Bougainville

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) – UN’s Migration Agency conducted a week-long consultation recently on climate change and mobility with Government authorities and local communities in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB).

Conducted in close cooperation with the National Disaster Centre (NDC) and Department for Provincial and Local Government Affairs (DPLGA), the consultation sought to gauge views from the identified stakeholders in AROB about climate change related mobility, covering migration, displacement and planned relocation efforts to inform resilience and adaptation measures, and policy discussions on internal displacement.

The consultation was undertaken under the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security Program (PCCMHS) program led by IOM and involved the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), Community Service Organizations, and local communities of Haku and Kuraio, and Carteret islanders displaced to Tinputz because of the rising sea level. The consultation also received inputs from a local NGO Tulele Paise and selected government representatives including Regional Member for Bougainville Peter Tsiamalili Jnr, Community Government Secretary – Puara Kamariki, and Disaster and Climate Change Coordinator Lt. Col. John Imaka (Rtd).

Tsiamalili highlighted the importance of taking immediate actions in support of communities negatively impacted by climate change noting, “It is important that efforts are put in place including through applying local solutions to improve the resilience of  Bougainvilleans in addressing the effects of climate change

“Food security is a serious challenge because limited farming land and high salinity in the island soil,” noted Ms. Ursula Rokova from Carteret Island. “Currently 10 families have moved from Carteret Island to Tinputz and more families are willing to move due to food security concerns,” she added.

One major concern raised by Ms. Ursula Rokova was the use of the term Climate Change Refugees highlighting that the term refugees refers to people crossing international boundaries to seek protection from persecution on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. She noted that the definition was not applicable to Carteret Islanders who are moving or are displaced internally. However, noting the protection issues emerging because of climate-related mobility, efforts should be made to guarantee the human rights, dignity, and respect of Carteret Islanders and others moving in such contexts.

IOM, DPLGA, and NDC team also discussed the ongoing policy discussions for internally displaced persons by the Government and partners. These community consultations will also serve to inform a regional approach amongst Governments to address the adverse impacts of climate mobility.

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