Fiji is one of the countries suffering most from climate change. The sensitive ecosystem of the island state is threatened by rising sea levels, changing rainfall and storm surges. Since 1993, the Pacific sea level here has risen by an average of six millimetres per year, almost 15 centimetres more than the global average. If nothing is done, the water will probably be 1.40 metres higher by the end of the century.
The 23rd World Climate Conference took place in November 2017, at which the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement of 2015 was further negotiated. The conference took place at the headquarters of the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany. For many Fijians, the conference was about taking the concerns of the Pacific Islanders seriously.
In a German-Fijian youth exchange programme, young environmental activists were able to see for themselves how climate change shapes life and everyday life in Fiji and Germany. The aim of the measure was to promote the exchange of young people and young adults on climate protection measures across national borders. Fifteen young committed people each from Germany and Fiji met in Fiji and in Germany representatives from politics, science and civil society. They learned about the risks, vulnerability and adaptation measures in the respective countries. As the climax and conclusion of the exchange, the young activists took part in the climate conference in Bonn and worked together to advocate more consistent climate protection. The exchange attracted media attention throughout Germany for climate change and its significance for countries such as Fiji. The exchange was organised by the Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations, the climate delegation of the Future Energy Youth Alliance and Project Survival Pacific Youth from Fiji and was financed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment.
For the people of Fiji and many other regions of the world, climate change means the struggle for survival and the fight for their homeland: rising sea levels flood villages and fields and endanger the population’s livelihood and food supply. As the world’s first village, the inhabitants of Fijian Vunidogoloa was resettled in 2012 due to climate change.
The oceans, which play an important role in climate regulation, are warming up and the habitat for fish and other marine animals and plants is changing dramatically. The rising temperatures of the seas also have a noticeable impact on land, because warm seas often result in extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes. In February 2016, tropical cyclone Winston devastated large parts of the Republic of Fiji. It was the strongest cyclone ever to hit the island state. The economic losses are estimated at more than half a billion US dollars – about a third of the annual gross domestic product.
The German-Fijian Youth Exchange was awarded the Energy Globe Award 2018 in the Category “National Winner Germany”.