Climate Changes Implications To Pacific Islands
Climate change remains the greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific islands.
The indicators of climate change suggest multiple concerns for human and natural communities in the
Pacific Islands region.
• Warmer and drier conditions mean that freshwater supplies will decrease on some Pacific Islands. Atolls and low-lying islands are especially vulnerable to freshwater shortages due to their small size and limited resources.
• Rising sea levels, exacerbated by storms, will increase coastal flooding and erosion, damaging coastal ecosystems and infrastructure and affecting agriculture, tourism, military bases, and
• Higher sea-surface temperatures will increase coral bleaching, leading to a change in coral species composition, coral disease, coral death, and habitat loss.
• Increasing ocean acidification and changing ocean chemistry will have negative consequences for the entire marine ecosystem. Although potentially dramatic, the exact nature of the consequences
is not yet clear.
• Distribution patterns of coastal and ocean fisheries will be altered, with potential for increased catches in some areas and decreased catches in others. Overall in the long term, open-ocean fisheries
• Rising temperatures, and in some areas reduced rainfall, will stress native Pacific Island plant and animal populations and species, especially in high-elevation ecosystems. This stress, coupled
with increased exposure to non-native biological invasions and fire, will increase the risk of extinctions.
• Threats to the traditional lifestyles of indigenous communities may include destruction of coastal artifacts and structures, reduced availability of traditional food sources and subsistence fisheries, and the loss of the land base that supports Pacific Island cultures. These losses will make it difficult for Pacific Island communities to sustain their connection with a defined place and their unique set of customs, beliefs, and languages.
• Mounting threats to food and water security, infrastructure, and public health and safety will
lead to human migration from low islands to high islands and continental sites.