UNDP Website, 9th August 2018
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples this year has a focus on migration and displacement. Indigenous peoples, who comprise less than 5 percent of the world’s population, have the world’s smallest carbon footprint, and are the least responsible for our climate crisis. Yet because their livelihoods and wellbeing are intimately bound with intact ecosystems, indigenous peoples disproportionately face the brunt of climate change, which is fast becoming a leading driver of human displacement.
In Papua New Guinea, for example, residents of the Carteret Islands – some of the most densely populated islands in the country – have felt the effects of climate change intensify over recent years. With a high point on their islands of just 1.2 metres above sea level, every community member is now at risk from sea level rise and storm surges. Moreover, the community depends almost entirely on fishing for their food and livelihoods, but the health of sea grass beds and coral reefs has gradually deteriorated from warming waters and coral bleaching.