The island of Kioa is located off the coast of Vanua Levu, one of the two main islands of Fiji. It is located in the Buca Bay and has an area of 18.60 km2. Kioa was purchased in 1946 by the “110 Matai” of Vaitupu in Tuvalu as a freehold land. Kioa is a 30-minute boat ride to Rabi, another migrant community originally from Banaba – Kiribati. For Kioa and Rabi, the conversation is focused on ‘Loss and Damage’ and future migration. We chose the community of Kioa to host and share their experiences of what it means to be a migrant community on the frontlines of the climate crisis. It was time to take this dialogue to the grassroots communities – as we discussed the fate of our very own people. Bringing climate change deliberations into talanoa with communities is vital in ensuring Loss and Damage decision-making elevates the experiences and aspirations of local and Indigenous communities like those on Kioa and Rabi.
“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.” Lawrence Nikotemo, Kioa Council Chairman
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 Conference 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.