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Pacific Climate Summit makes renewed call to Pacific Forum leaders

Port Vila, Vanuatu

Climate Civil Societies and youth in Vanuatu attending the Pacific Climate Justice Summit, 3 - 4 August 2021. Photo: Vanuatu Climate Action Network

Pacific Civil Society, including youth, has called on Vanuatu’s Prime Minister to raise a proposal on climate change at the upcoming virtual Pacific Island Forum Meeting, on August 6.

In the Pacific, communities are at the frontline, experiencing and battling the adverse impacts of the climate crisis, an issue that they have little to contribute to.

The call was made at a Pacific Climate Justice Summit on August 3-4, in which key representatives from national governments, civil society, faith communities, development partners and communities joined virutally, with in-person hubs set up in Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the Solomons Islands.

The theme was "The Rising Tide: A United Pacific for Climate Justice” with the primary objective of solidifying a strong human rights and climate justice policy positions in lead up to COP 26.

Call to Pacific leaders

Mr Joe Kalo of the Vanuatu National Council of Youth called on Vanuatu’s Prime Minister to make a case to all Pacific leaders at the upcoming Forum meeting to support this call for an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice.  

"Our youth will face the brunt of this crisis. We have to use all avenues to make fossil fuel producing countries stop the destruction to our future generations."

Ms Hilda Lini made a presentation to the virtual summit reminding participants on how Vanuatu successfully lobbied for UN action on nuclear proliferation through an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice.

She believes that Vanuatu and the Pacific will successfully lead the charge to finally address the climate emergency.

"Climate change requires the same attention by courts and legal jurisdictions around the world so that those countries, corporations and individuals who are most responsible for climate change will be held to account."

Devastating effects

Meanwhile, Vanuatu's Climate Action Network said that back in 2019, Vanuatu had asked Pacific leaders to support a movement towards a UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution seeking an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States, under international law to protect the rights of present and future generations against the adverse effects of climate change. 

They said Climate change is devastating Pacific lives and livelihoods, and climate change negotiations are not moving fast enough, and legal avenues are needed to make transformational change. 

Civil society were now asking Vanuatu’s Prime Minister not to let the 2019 proposal die out, and to reintroduce it this week so that it forms a part of the 2021 Pacific Leaders Declaration.   

“Climate change remains to be the single greatest threat to the Pacific people’s livelihood, security, and wellbeing, and has over the years exacerbated other development challenges,” said the network.