PACIFIC CLIMATE JUSTICE DEMANDS — A CALL TO ACTION

PREAMBLE

We, the representatives from 19 Pacific Island countries and 30 other nations, representing frontline communities, national governments, civil society, faith communities, academic institutions, development partners, and the private sector, met virtually and in the hubs in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu from the 4th to the 5th of October, 2022 for the Pacific Climate Justice Summit, Securing Climate Justice: From Grassroots Action to Global Traction, organized by the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network and its partners.

In the lead-up to the Twenty-seventh session of the Conference of Parties (COP27), we reaffirm our role to put pressure on leaders and governments to deliver an ambitious climate change outcome - necessary to secure the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature warming to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

We resoundingly make clear that the 1.5 degrees celsius goal is a lifeline for the Pacific Island people, communities and ecosystems.

We reaffirm the latest 6th Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which has indisputably confirmed the Pacific's decades-long warnings about the climate realities that people, communities, and ecosystems are confronting in the face of this immense existential threat.

We acknowledge that Pacific Island peoples and communities are rising to the challenge to build climate resilience, drawing from the strength, wisdom and knowledge of our traditions and cultures, and from proven technologies, innovative ideas, and western science to form solutions that work in our contexts, for our peoples and communities.

As representatives led by and accountable to the demands of our people, communities, and constituencies we outline the following demands to Leaders, Governments, and the international community to secure the future of our Blue Pacific Continent, and the future of our one Blue Planet.

CLIMATE JUSTICE

The clear lack of action of rich, industrialized, high emissions-producing, and polluting nations is disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable countries and frontline communities, which are experiencing climate shocks with increasing frequency and intensity. We strongly reiterate the voices and the realities of our communities, that climate change is already having serious social, economic, political, cultural, and ecological implications, threatening peace and security, and undermining the full enjoyment of human rights. Disproportionately impacted are marginalized and vulnerable groups such as indigenous communities, children, youth, people with disabilities, persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), climate migrants and elderly people.

We call on all Governments, including the Pacific, intergovernmental organizations, CROP agencies, development actors, private sector, and other key stakeholders to centre the voices of our communities in climate change discourse, policy, and practice at the local, national, regional, and global levels, and to strongly uphold the principles of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.

We call on Governments, including the Pacific, intergovernmental organizations, CROP agencies, development actors, the private sector, and other key stakeholders to actively and meaningfully support young people and youth who form the majority of the Pacific region’s population, and as the voice of the next generation is a critical partner in building a just, sustainable, and resilient Blue Pacific continent.

We emphasize the importance of inclusive, intergenerational, integrated, people-centred and human rights-based approaches to climate mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage measures, conforming to the Paris Agreement, the Global Compact for Migration, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and other internationally adopted Conventions (1).

We underscore the importance of enhancing research, disaggregated data collection, risk analysis, knowledge and information sharing to better map, understand and manage the challenges related to the adverse impacts of climate change in a manner that considers an intersectionality approach.

We are united as one Pacific voice and will genuinely and assertively stand our ground as Pacific Island advocates, promoting the core principles of climate justice, good governance, human rights, intergenerational equity, self-determination, Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Leaving No One Behind. We recall the historic UN Resolution that recognizes that a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a human right, confirming the decision of the UN Human Rights Council (48/13) that this is an inherent right, and that our health, well-being, and survival all depend on a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.

We are resolute, standing in solidarity with the people of West Papua, Kanaky and Maohi Nui in their struggles for self-determination, to free their people from the ecological impunity, and absence of justice that originating from state-sponsored colonial interests.

We call on all Governments and State Parties to endorse and support the Vanuatu initiative to seek through a UN General Assembly resolution an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, clarifying the obligations of states to protect the rights of current and future generations in the context of climate change and human rights.

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(1) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

LOSS AND DAMAGE

We are living through an era of Loss and Damage resulting from climate change, and our communities are experiencing unprecedented economic and non-economic Loss and Damage. At COP27, we strongly insist that Parties must take the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage into a new action-based direction beyond dialogues, taskforces and clearing houses.

Governments and Parties to the UNFCCC(2) must acknowledge that there is no funding arrangement to provide a fit-for-purpose response to address Loss & Damage.

Parties must agree on establishing Loss and Damage as a permanent, standalone agenda item for all future COP and Subsidiary Body meetings, and that Loss and Damage Finance is on the agenda as a sub-item of “Matters relating to Finance”.

Parties must agree at COP 27 on establishing a dedicated Loss and Damage Finance Facility which will mobilize new, additional, needs-based, and predictable finance, that is targeted and channelled to the vulnerable people and communities who need it most, including in the Pacific, that does not compete for limited resources within existing mechanisms.

Parties must exhaust all means available to help fragile and vulnerable communities in the Pacific address irreversible Loss and Damage from climate change.

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(2) UNFCCC is an acronym referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

GENDER, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL INCLUSION

State and non-state actors must redouble their efforts to ensure that gender transformative, socially inclusive, and human rights approaches are mainstreamed in all decision-making processes and climate change responses, and which take into consideration the diverse and specific needs, experiences and contexts of communities and groups affected by climate change.

State and non-state actors must focus on developing a deeper understanding of the intersectional identities of vulnerable and marginalized groups, to ensure appropriate, adequate, and inclusive responses such as reasonable accommodation, inclusive digital technologies and other disability-specific needs, safety, security and protection of women, girls, elderly persons, and persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions.

Governments when planning and designing climate action response policies, including revising, and updating their National Determined Contributions (NDCs), should ensure that gender experts, including women and gender-related groups and national gender machinery, are meaningfully and effectively engaged in the process.

Governments must reaffirm their commitment to the UNFCCC enhanced Gender Action Plan (UNFCCC GAP) and the resourcing and implementation of all its five priority areas that aim to advance knowledge and understanding of gender-responsive climate action.

CLIMATE MOBILITY

Wealthy developed countries must deliver a climate finance delivery plan to fulfil the US$ 100 billion annual goal over the period 2020-2025, with 50% directed to adaptation, and they must improve the quantity and quality of the climate finance so that it doesn’t aggravate climate injustice, nor undermine the fiscal space of developing countries, and with it, their ability to protect the rights and livelihoods of climate-affected people and communities.

Developed countries should announce new and additional grant-based adaptation finance pledges, to address the current chronic underfunding of adaptation, and prevent the climate injustice of forcing developing countries into unsustainable debt to finance urgent climate actions.

Ongoing discussions for a needs-based New Collective Quantified Goal on climate finance (NCQG) prioritizing new and additional grant financing must address shortcomings and injustices in the current climate finance provisions.

Governments, multilateral development banks, financial institutions and donor agencies must improve the volume and quality of climate finance that frontline communities can access immediately and with greater flexibility, simplifying direct access to climate finance for affected people and communities, and providing climate finance that is human rights-centred and gender-responsive.

Governments, multilateral development banks, financial institutions and donor agencies must address access at the national and local levels by reforming the larger public climate finance architecture, enhancing predictability, flexibility, openness, and speed of climate finance disbursement to frontline climate-affected and grassroots communities.

Governments, multilateral development banks, financial institutions and donor agencies must commit to long-term capacity strengthening of frontline community groups, drawing from both traditional knowledge and indigenous wisdom, and western science and innovation to implement sustainable, scalable, and impactful solutions.

FOSSIL FUELS

We call on fossil fuels producing countries to immediately stop the expansion of fossil fuel industries, putting an end to all new oil, coal, and gas projects. Governments must end the harmful practice of subsidizing the fossil fuels industries, and public and private sector financial institutions should divest away from fossil fuels industries.

We are resolute in our efforts to support Pacific Island governments in the development and implementation of climate policy, frameworks, guidelines, and pathways for just transition to a net zero carbon economy.

We call on development partners, multilateral development banks, and international financial institutions to make available the financial resources necessary for highly fossil fuel-dependent countries like the PSIDS to rapidly transition to renewable energy and for diversifying their economies away from fossil fuel-intensive industries.

OCEANS

The ocean is the living blue heart of our planet, and it is what connects us, and its essence is the basis of our Pacific identity, heritage, and well-being. The health of our ocean is synonymous with the health of the people and communities of the Pacific. We are the oceans, and, in its preservation, we are preserved. It is our common responsibility to defend and protect the ocean. We are its guardians.

Governments must recognize the critical role that our oceans play in regulating the global climate system, generating oxygen, and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and must ensure that they address the ocean-climate-biodiversity nexus through a holistic approach, and that solutions are compatible; that the protection of one cannot be at the expense of the other.

Governments must continue to prominently push for Oceans within the negotiations, and advocate for the creation of regional agreements to improve sustainable ocean management in the context of climate change and sea level rise.

Governments, state, and non-state actors must fully oppose the rush to mine the ocean floor and support the global ban on Deep Sea Mining (including beyond Exclusive Economic Zones).

CONCLUSION

As we move deeper into this critical decade for our common future, we must remain aware of the complexities of these concerns and will continue to advocate for effective, inclusive, intergenerational, human rights-centred, and gender-transformative climate responses.

We will prioritize the voices, perspectives and needs of our people and communities who are most exposed to climate impacts so that they have adequate access to services and opportunities, as well as the ability to mobilize resources to support development and resilience in their communities.

More than anything, we require a new common narrative: one that is not paralyzed by the fear of losing hope, but fearless in fully recognizing the rights, capacities, and contributions of those most affected by climate change, and seeking effective solutions that put people at the centre of climate action.