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Chest deep in water: Sea level rise and Loss and Damages in Kioa

Lotomau Fiafia was born in 1952 on Kioa island, a remote island in Fiji. He told us the sea has been continually rising since the 90s. I asked if he can stand where the shore line was approximately thirty years ago so I can take a photo of him and his ten-year old grandson John. He ended up about 30 meters from the existing shoreline into the chest deep water. Lotomau is deeply worried that his concerns will not be heard by the outside world about his community directly affected by rising sea levels. I promised to pass on his message through images...

The residents of Kioa are descendants of Vaitupu atoll in Tuvalu and began migrating to the island in the 1940's due to lack of space. Its considered a successful example of island migration, which could be a model for future climate change relocations.

Last week Seve Paeniu, Tuvaluan Finance and Climate Change Minister traveled to the island of Kioa in Fiji to launch an important meeting with 60+ civil society organisations, NGO's, climate activists and leaders from across the Pacifics. They met to create a regional loss and damages fund, The Kato Pacific Community Climate Fund, a response to the existing international mechanisms in place, but are moving at an incredible slow pace. At COP 27, an international loss and damages fund was agreed to in concept more than 30 years after the Alliance of Small Island States first proposed it, facing immediate rejection. But this fund is still being worked out.

Tuvalu Minister for Finance and Climate Change, Seve Paeniu had said: “Pacific Island countries contribute the least to the cause of climate change, and yet we do only suffer the most damage in terms of the impact of climate change, but we have to consequently bear the heaviest price in terms of cost of adaptation and mitigation. This includes the cost of transitioning away from fossil fuel reliance to a low-carbon or green sustainable economy future. It is within this context that this Kato conference held on Kioa is very timely and fitting”

Eddie Jim is photographer for The Age/Sydney Morning Herald.

Story Information:

Country: Fiji

Topic: Sea Level Rise

Photo or video credit: Eddie Jim

Text Credit: Eddie Jim

Date : 16 August 2023

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