The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

State of the Environment for Oceania report considers impact of El Nino

Event date: 
23 Sep 2016

On 4 October a new report is to be released which reveals the extent of suffering due to environmental changes in the Pacific. The report will provide eyewitness evidence of remarkable levels of hardship being encountered right on New Zealand’s doorstep, in a year of unprecedented global temperature rises and a severe El Nino weather pattern.

The report will share firsthand accounts from across the region of the impacts on people of multiple, severe weather emergencies, combined with the ongoing impacts of climate change. 

It will also reveal the Caritas assessment of how environmental factors such as food and water supply, quality and quantity of climate finance, and coastal flooding and erosion are impacting the wellbeing of people at the grassroots and coastal edges of life in the Pacific.

This year’s report has been a joint effort between Caritas agencies from Aotearoa New Zealand, Tonga and Australia, drawing on more than a decade of work and increasing concern about the severe environmental challenges facing Oceania, particularly from climate change.

“Our purpose in releasing these reports is to provide a people’s-voice perspective on the urgent environmental issues facing those in the region,” says Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Director Julianne Hickey.

“It provides faces for the statistics and tells the story of what is happening to people dealing with long-term environmental challenges.”

Mrs Hickey is currently in Kiribati as part of a Caritas team working with local communities to design a longer-term project responding to local health and nutrition needs.

Previous Caritas environmental reports have brought the issues facing Pacific peoples to the attention of global audiences at United Nations climate change conferences, including the historic Paris Climate Change conference (COP 21) last December, where Mrs Hickey spoke on climate finance and human rights.

“We are looking for concrete actions by the governments of our region to show they are serious about implementing and deepening the Paris Agreement,” says Mrs Hickey.

Caritas launches its annual environment reports on 4 October to coincide with the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint for ecology, after whom Pope Francis is named.

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Tutu ana te puehu - Stirring up the dust