Since 1993, sea levels have been rising at the rate of .2 inches per year in their Pacific territory. Much of this remote archipelago nation consisting of 82 volcanic islands sits just 0.9 metres (3 feet) above sea level.
Cyclones are less frequent but more severe. Tropical Cyclone Pam, the most powerful cyclone to ever hit Vanuatu, caused economic damage equivalent to 64 percent of the country’s GDP in 2015, some $590 million. An estimated 250 thousand residents on Vanuatu’s outer islands had minimal, if any, protection from the cyclone’s winds, which reached speeds of 320 kilometres (200 miles) per hour.
In 2021 Vanuatu announced its intention to seek an advisory opinion by the international court of justice on the rights of present and future generations to be protected from climate change.
Vanuatu’s push for the international court of justice to protect vulnerable nations from climate change has received the backing of 1,500 civil society organizations from more than 130 countries, as it heads toward a crucial vote at the UN General Assembly in 2022.
The alliance includes climate groups from the Pacific: Climate Action Network – International, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Oxfam in the Pacific, 350 Pacific, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network and Vanuatu Climate Action Network.
Vanuatu’s climate change plan is committed to phasing out fossil fuels, ambitious efforts to curb emissions and costed programmes to deal with adaption and loss and damage.
Let us continue to pray for Vanuatu as this small nation of less than 300,000 pushes for attention on climate change initiatives and solutions.
Note: The 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 77) opened on Tuesday, 13 September 2022. The first day of the high-level General Debate will be Tuesday, 20 September 2022.
This article was written by Janet MacFadyen, WICC Communications using the following sources: