Vanuatu to relocate villages due to rising sea

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Vanuatu is drawing up plans to relocate “dozens” of villages within the next two years, as they come under threat from rising seas, the Pacific nation’s climate chief said on Thursday.

Climate Change Minister Ralph Regenvanu said dealing with the impact of global warming was a major challenge facing Vanuatu’s 300,000 inhabi-tants who live on a chain of islands strung out be-tween Australia and Fiji.

Regenvanu said the response would inevitably involve relocating long-established communities from coastal areas, where climate change is pushing sea levels higher and fuelling more extreme storms.

He said Vanuatu’s government has identified “dozens” of villages in “at-risk areas” to be relocated “within the next 24 months” while other settlements have also been earmarked to move in the longer term.

“Climate displacement of populations is the main feature of our future. We have to be ready for it and plan for it now,” said Regenvanu, who took over his ministerial portfolio after a snap election in October.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge and a huge tragedy for many people who would have to leave their ancestral land to move to other places, but that’s the reality.” Low-lying Pacific island nations, like Vanuatu, are already experiencing the impact of climate change.

Half of Vanuatu’s population was affected when Cyclone Pam battered the capital Port Vila in 2015, killing a dozen people, destroying crops and leaving thousands homeless.—AFP