Niuean Climate change expert to brief the UN Security Council

Climate change expert Coral Pasisi will be presenting to the United Nations Security Council this week, a first for Niue.

Coral was invited to present online to the Council this Friday by the German Government’s Foreign Affairs who she has been working with as a Pacific adviser on climate change security in preparation for their current presidency of the UN Security Council along with a group of international climate change security experts.

Germany aims to progress the issue of climate change security in the UN security council which normally deals with conflicts around the world, wars and its objective is to maintain peace and security but climate change has not been an issue that they’ve considered in great detail. Pacific leaders have maintained over the last ten years that climate change is the biggest security threat for the Pacific.

Coral will be the third presenter to brief  the Council after the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and a Colonel from Niger who will be speaking on the challenges  in the Sahel droughts

Her objective is to raise the understanding of the UN Security Council about the magnitude of the impacts of climate change to the Pacific as such and the reason as to why our Pacific leaders believe it is a security challenge of the highest order and to request their assistance.

She only has 5 to 8 minutes to present and will be presenting on three main issues.

The impact of climate change and sea level rise on the certainty of maritime boundaries in the Pacific.

“The EEZ determines our jurisdictional area, our 200 nautical miles out from our baselines and these are threatened by climate change, many of those baselines are made up of coral shorelines and quays which are highly suspectable to climate change. So some of our countries are at risk of losing large jurisdictions and also , the lowest lying atolls potentially the whole country could be lost.”

Redistribution of tuna migration patterns.

“Tuna is one of the largest economic development revenues to countries up to 84 percent of government revenue for some countries is based on fish licensing and tuna catches so the climate change impact on that is both by way of migratory patterns so tuna is expected to move from the west to the east and up to the high sea so this basically means that the tuna that was caught in the EEZ of many of our countries will now move to the high seas where countries that are actually polluting and causing climate change will be able to take them out of the water for free and not pay those licenses so this is a huge economic challenge for our countries who stand to lose up to 20 percent of the revenues generated by this resource.” said Pasisi

Displacement and forced migration as a result of climate change.

“We know that it may not be long before lands might go underwater, they become so unproductive that they can’t sustain human life and livelihoods, so this is already happening in the region. We have in Papua New Guinea for example over 6,000 people relocated from the Cateret islands and other small islands in PNG to Bougainville to try and move them away from areas of land that are being lost due to coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion, and other climate impacts. It happens in our own countries, we have families from Tuvalu who are coming here to get away from the challenges of climate change that’s happened over the last sort of 15 years and we have examples with Kiribati which has bought land in Fiji for food security and potentially to move populations there due to the impacts of climate change. There’s no international law that provides certainty over their movements and their safety and there’s no international law that recognizes that the impacts of climate change on the maritime boundaries can be factored into countries retaining the resources from those EEZ so our leaders are very concerned about being able to ensure that our countries retain those jurisdictions in their territories for economics and for nationality because if your country sinks below the water line and they have to move the population, what rights do those people have in another country, would their nationality still be from their country “   

She hopes that the UN Security Council agrees that this is an issue of such magnitude that they include it more regularly in their agenda.

“It’s not enough that they only speak to it when the Presidency of the Council has a strong desire to move this issue and ultimately none of these issues can be addressed until countries actually ramp up their emission ambitions and we have some of the biggest polluting countries in the UN Security Council as permanent members who have reversed their positions on the emissions and pulled out of the Paris agreement so ultimately its to try to get them to change that behavior and increase resources humanitarian to help us with these challenges.”

Coral says the opportunity to present before the UN Security Council will be a personal milestone.

“Its probably the biggest presentation I’ll be making in my life so it’s a big career-high for me but having said that I have drawn on the expertise and the knowledge of many, many people and agencies around the Pacific for many years to inform this work,” said Pasisi

Coral Pasisi has over 20 years of experience in the Pacific Islands region, focusing on sustainable development, climate change and associated financing.

She has worked at the government level in Niue as a Sustainable Development Planner, and at the regional level for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) as a Regional and International Issues Adviser; and for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP.

In the past five years, Pasisi has worked as a consultant, predominately for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as their Regional Adviser for the Pacific.

She is also a Member of the Climate Security Expert Network, established by the German government, which currently holds the UN Security Council Presidency, to advance climate security issues.

Pasisi runs the non-profit organization Tofia Niue, which works in partnership with the local government and global philanthropic organizations, including Oceans 5 and National Geographic Pristine Seas, to protect and sustainably manage ocean resources.

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