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Pacific grassroots leaders to deliver climate action message to Canberra

Oxfam Australia 2 mins read

Grassroots leaders from the Pacific will today call on Australian political leaders to urgently scale up their advocacy and ambitions to respond to the climate crisis at the upcoming G20 and UN Climate Ambition Meetings, as they share their firsthand experiences of the impacts of climate change at a Parliamentary event.

The three community leaders – from Fiji and the Solomon Islands – will also outline what they believe the Australian government needs to do to ensure its bid to co-host COP31 talks with the Pacific are not seen as tokenistic, such as by including voices from the grassroots as well as those of political leaders.  

Hosted by Oxfam Australia, the trio visited Melbourne and Sydney before arriving in Canberra on Monday, to discuss key emerging issues such as climate finance and a new fund to support communities dealing with climate impacts (known as loss and damage), with activists and politicians.  

The ‘Safe Climate Equal Future’ Tour centres around an event at Parliament House today, just ahead of the G20 meetings this weekend and the UN Climate Ambition Summit in New York on September 20, where government leaders will be expected to announce ramped up measures to address the climate crisis. 

Usaia Moli, Lavenia Naivalu and Zedi Devesi have all been personally impacted by climate-induced events like cyclones, droughts, and rising sea levels, and are motivated to ensure that climate-vulnerable countries and communities are not forgotten in regional and global climate action.  

With the goal of deepening their international networks, they have also connected and collaborated with representatives from leading climate, Pacific and First Nations grassroots organisations in Australia, to discuss allyship, climate justice, loss and damage, and locally-led development and adaptation.  

Usaia Moli’s village Cakova, in the east of Fiji, has already been relocated due to climate impacts.  

“Our life is centered around the sea and our community and while we live in what many may consider Fiji’s most under-developed areas, we are content and grateful,” he said.  

“However, day by day, we watch as the ocean tears down our seawall, we wait with bated breath when authorities issue warning of strong winds, heavy rain and the annual cycle of cyclones. 

“With little to no access to services and information, climate justice is to us, just empty words. Not until policies are translated to services, to access, to dignity of our remote island communities, climate justice will remain just that – empty words.”  

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain highlighted the importance of platforming and listening to Pacific voices in the global climate discussion, particularly in the lead up to the UNFCCC COP28 talks in December, and as Australia bids to co-host COP31 with Pacific Island neighbours in 2026.  

“Pacific communities are experiencing the most devastating impacts of climate extremes, despite being the least responsible for the carbon emissions that are at the root of this emergency,” she said. 

“Australians value fairness and being good neighbours to the Pacific when it suits us and our needs, yet the funding and climate action commitments made by our leaders have been broken, delayed or are simply inadequate to meet the scale of the issue faced by people in the Pacific. This must change, and, as the Australian Government has said, it starts with listening.” 

For interviews with the speakers, contact Lily Partland on 0418 118 687 / lilyp@oxfam.org.au 

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