TESS NEWTON CAIN |
COP 27 concludes
The COP27 meeting in Egypt has concluded. The negotiations ran over time and well into the night before a final text could be agreed.
A significant breakthrough for Pacific island countries was the agreement to establish a “Loss and Damage” facility within the UNFCCC framework. This has been something that Pacific states such as Tuvalu have been lobbying for over a long period of time. Developed countries such as the USA secured an agreement that contributions to this facility would be voluntary, not based on any assessment of liability.
Vanuatu used the meeting to continue its lobbying for a UN resolution to seek an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice on the impact of climate change on human rights. There are now 86 countries that support this push. It is Vanuatu’s intention to put this resolution to a vote of the UN next month.
Toa Samoa lights up the Rugby League World Cup
In Manchester, the Rugby League World Cup concluded over the weekend. In the men’s competition, Australia defeated Samoa 30-10.
However, the big story of the competition was that Samoa had made it to the final and the world-wide wave of support they had generated along the way. They got off to a very bad start, losing 60-6 against England in their opening match. In the quarter-finals they came up against Tonga and secured a victory (20-18) before turning the tables on England to win the semi-final 27-26.
The on-field dramas were matched and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for Toa Samoa which became a global phenomenon. Large diaspora communities in Australia, the US, and New Zealand joined with the country’s population of 200,000 to cheer the team on. Social media channels were awash with photos and videos of parades of flag-waving supporters.
Kiribati seeks support for ambitious plan
Kiribati is one of the Pacific islands at most risk from rising sea levels. It also has one of the highest population densities in the world in parts of the country as residents relocate from more outlying areas.
The government has made a call for donor assistance to fund an ambitious plan to reclaim land from the ocean and build up low-lying atolls.
President Taneti Maamau says that this approach is preferable to previous plans for ‘migration with dignity’ that were put forward by former President, Anote Tong. It is expected that the cost of such an undertaking would run to billions of dollars. President Maamau argues that rich, developed nations should bear the cost.
Kiribati currently has one dredger in the country, that was donated by Japan. Even if a scheme of this type were possible in Tarawa, it is unlikely to be feasible in the outer islands.
New Caledonia pro-independence groups pushing for action
In New Caledonia, groups from the pro-independence movement are pushing for action when it comes to the future of the territory.
The Caledonian Union and the Palikir Party both recently held congresses to discuss next steps after the 2021 referendum, which they boycotted.
Palikir’s Jean-Pierre Djaiwe has called for a further referendum that should put the question of whether New Caledonia should become independent in partnership with France. However, the position of the Caledonian Union is that New Caledonia should become completely independent.
Meanwhile, Daniel Goa of the Caledonian Union has been criticised by the New Caledonia Committee of Elders after he said that a decision by France to unilaterally leave the decolonisation process could have serious implications when it comes to peace in the territory. Goa has hit back saying that the Committee of Elders lacks credibility as it was a creation of the French state.
Tess Newton Cain is a Principal Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead of the Pacific Hub.