The reason place matters: Climate change and community relocation in Fiji and Papua New Guinea
Retreating from coastal areas in response to changing environmental conditions has long been a part of Pacific Island communities’ traditional adaptive strategies, culture and practices. One can point to a number of cases of significant out-migration, as well as environmentally-induced partial and staggered community relocations, which are outside of “normal” migratory patterns. Furthermore, many traditional risk management and response strategies have been lost in the post-colonial era, due in part to today’s pre-eminence of “modern” strategies. This loss also applies to strategies of risk-sharing with traditional trading and kinship partners, who are now found across artificial international borders. It leaves exposed communities and specific vulnerable groups with fewer capacities to respond to extreme weather events and the (gradual but permanent and assured) loss of habitable land (as in the case of low-lying atolls and volcanic eruptions). The result may be the loss of shared social and cultural identities, spaces and meanings; the creation of a bifurcated, altered or hybrid identities. Those who migrate are often in tension with those who return to or remain anchored in the physical source of a shared heritage.
- Policy Briefs