Pacific civil society representatives signed the Kioa Climate Emergency Declaration on October 19, 2022, uplifting demands for urgent decarbonisation, recognition of loss and damage, community-informed migration strategies and accessible climate finance.
The three-day consultations on Kioa Island in Fiji saw CSO representatives of the Pacific and Oceania, frontline and indigenous communities, grassroots organisations, youth networks, and faith-based organisations make a united call for urgent climate action in the lead up to the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt next month.
The declaration is unique in its setting, deliberated and signed on the shores of Kioa Island, a community relocated 75 years ago from the island of Vaitupu in Tuvalu. The preamble references the plight of countries such as Fiji, Tuvalu and the Republic of Marshall Islands, and the lessons from communities such as Rabi, Kioa and the Torres Strait Islands. Driven by these realities, the Kioa Declaration demands urgent and decisive action through:
- Greater action on mitigation, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to align to the 1.5 degrees celsius temperature goal, to ensure survival of small island communities.
- Urgent action on adaptation including financing and support for community-led initiatives.
- Urgent progress on the issue of Loss & Damage (L&D).
- Ensure the just, dignified and safe movement of peoples, in the context of climate change.
- Guaranteed access to finance, and the creation of more equitable finance arrangements, beginning with a review of regional and international financial architectures, with inputs from civil society organisations and other stakeholders.
- Ocean policies that are compatible with the climate goals.
- Achieve inter-generational equity, ensuring we leave a better world for our descendants, by cancelling climate debt and a commitment to a debt-free future.
The Declaration is accompanied by the Kioa Pledge, a commitment from civil society representatives present to provide resources and capacity to the communities they represent, clearing pathways to access climate finance.
Signatories included the Kioa Council, Pacific Council of Churches, 350.org Pacific, Pacific Climate Warriors, Greenpeace Pacific, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN), Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO), Loss & Damage Youth Coalition Pacific, Caritas Oceania, Caritas Australia, International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD), Rabi Youth Council, amongst other Pacific CSOs and representatives from indigenous and frontline communities across the Pacific.
Lawrence Nikotemo, Kioa Council Chairman says: “We now realise that we are not alone in this fight. After 75 years of being in Kioa, our commitments and strengths continue to grow because we know what it feels like to start with nothing in the land, we now call home. The journey was not easy but today we have seen the fruit of our commitments. Our tears of resilience have brought us this far, political will and strong collective actions are needed to reverse the climate crisis. We have faith in the work of young people taking our stories to COP. This is a historic day for our people.”
Joseph Sikulu, 350.org Pacific Managing Director: “The Pacific will not be forgotten. As we prepare for negotiations on Loss and Damage and displacement at COP27, the Pacific has a united voice in the Kioa Climate Emergency Declaration. We are calling for those who have contributed most to the climate crisis to take responsibility for the damage to our islands. We challenge those present at COP27 to make the bold decisions necessary to protect our futures. In the Kioa Pledge we challenge ourselves to build the solutions necessary for our own communities to thrive.”
Josaia Jirauni, Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations: “We recognise that while our cultures and identity face an existential threat from climate change effects, we can also draw on our indigenous knowledge and time-tested traditions to mitigate the impacts of climate change and strengthen our resilience. This is the first ever Declaration containing the voices of the communities and we are in a better position to make our voices heard at COP27.”
Iliasa Kauyaca, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network: “The frontliners of climate change are faced with these problems over the years. The past three days have given us the opportunity to identify key priorities the World Leaders need to hear. PICAN is adamant world leaders do not see our resilience as an adaptation armour. All we ask is they do their part too.”
Ulaiasi Tuikoro, Community Outreach Officer for Pacific Youth Council: “This a voice of hope and transition for the youth of the Pacific. For years, we have tried to fight for policies to address climate change, but without enough action taking place. We hope leaders will hear us now that we have a declaration, not just from national leaders, but from representatives of our communities. The UN Climate Conference began in 1995 and as a 30-year-old, I am yet to see real climate action in my lifetime. I hope that this declaration will bring about that change.”
Damian Spruce, Caritas Australia: “It is amazing to see the strengths of the Pacific communities, church leaders and CSO’s, understanding the crisis faced by the region and being able to put in a short document, a solution that demands world leaders do what needs to be done. It is great to see the passion and articulation from the young people who have led the debate, and the voices of the youth taking this declaration to COP27.
Pefi King, Niue Island Association of Non-Government Organisations: “The Kioa Declaration is a critical statement from Pacific civil society. It is of great importance to the lives and livelihoods of our people. It is about our people seeking redress and reparation, it is about recalibrating where we are at with our demise as an island-living people. We are not in the safest of places, but we didn’t cause this damage and this crisis. The Kioa Declaration is an iteration of what we all feel to be right and true and just, for our future and for our children.”
Selina Pulini Tikoibua, Pacific Coordinator for Loss and Damage Youth Coalition:“Pacific Islanders are known to be resilient but our resilience cannot be taken advantage of. Actions need to be taken, big governments need to be held responsible for their actions and compensate for loss and damage faced by our fragile communities.”