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Open AccessArticle

Climate Change Migration and Displacement: Learning from Past Relocations in the Pacific

Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), Laucala Campus, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(7), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8070218
Received: 1 March 2019 / Revised: 20 June 2019 / Accepted: 26 June 2019 / Published: 19 July 2019
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Abstract

It has been projected that the single greatest impact of environmental changes will be on human migration and displacement. Migration has been extensively discussed and documented as an adaptation strategy in response to environmental changes, and more recently, to climate change. However, forced relocation will lead to the displacement of people, and although much has been written about it, very little has been documented from the Pacific Islands perspective, especially by communities that were forced to relocate as a result of colonialism and those that have been forced to migrate today as a result of climate change impacts. Using the Gilbertese resettlement from the Phoenix Islands to the Solomon Islands, in particular, Wagina Island in the 1960s as a case study of forced relocation and displacement of Pacific Islands people during the colonial period, this paper aims to underline some of the important lessons that can be learned from this historical case to inform the present and future challenges of climate change migration and displacement. Without dismissing migration as a coping strategy, the paper argues that the forced relocation of people from their home islands as a result of climate change will lead to displacement. It accentuates that in the case of Pacific Islands, forced relocation will lead to displacement if they are forced to leave their land because of their deep relationship and attachment to it. The paper also emphasizes the need to acknowledge and honor Pacific Islands’ voices and perceptions in discourses on climate change migration and displacement at national, regional and international forums. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change migration; adaptation; displacement; forced relocation; forced migration; Gilbertese people; Phoenix Islands; Wagina Island climate change migration; adaptation; displacement; forced relocation; forced migration; Gilbertese people; Phoenix Islands; Wagina Island
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Tabe, T. Climate Change Migration and Displacement: Learning from Past Relocations in the Pacific. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 218.

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