Climate + Gender Justice

by International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD)
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice
Climate + Gender Justice

In June 2022, the ICAAD team participated in the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security Regional Dialogue held in Nadi, Fiji. The dialogue brought together civil society and non-state actors for the first two days and then invited the Pacific Islands Forum member states for the last two days. The dialogue began with a review of the zero draft of the regional framework on climate mobility which was produced over the last two years through consultations and research coordinated by the Kaldor Center based in New South Wales, Australia. 

The ICAAD team, alongside other civil society partners, brought in insights from our Right to Life with Dignity project including from the 18 virtual discussion series events over the last year and a half. On day one of the dialogue, the presentations and discussions resonated with many of the sentiments raised in the discussion series with other frontline climate activists. Issues around spiritual connection to land, the nuances of rights-based approaches in the Pacific, and the challenge of building accountability to the framework all came up consistently. One of the main sentiments expressed by civil society was that as the framework is coming from the Pacific and will impact and represent the Pacific, they want to be able to smell, hear, feel, and see the Pacific within the framework.

We submitted a written statement resulting from the discussions with other partners, suggesting the addition of the Right to Life with Dignity legal standard as well as adding clarity around who the framework applied to. Our virtual discussion series regularly addressed the status of communities and individuals who have already been displaced. The clarification that the framework would apply to those who have already been displaced was added to the subsequent draft. 

We are grateful for the opportunity to connect with our partners and build new relationships with those in the regional climate space. Looking ahead, the framework will continue in the consultation process with the outlook of endorsement by the Pacific Islands Forum leaders by mid-year 2023. 

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At the 21st session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues last month, Chair Dario Jose Mejia Montavlo of the Zenú people of San Andrés Sotavento, Colombia, commented: “We share a holistic relationship with nature, where rights are not anthropocentric.” Indigenous populations protect the vast majority of the world’s biodiversity, but are among those most acutely facing climate impacts. Climate displacement is already taking place in regions like the Pacific, with frontline local and Indigenous communities facing human rights violations due to climate inaction. 

Virtual Discussion Series

This Forum raised important reminders for our Right to Life with Dignity Project, as we convened our new series of virtual discussions with local and Indigenous climate activists across the Pacific. Ensuring that our design approach resonates with Indigenous knowledge has been a key component of our project. In May, we hosted four discussions with 14 new collaborators in total. Collaborators joined from Fiji, Samoa, Kiribati, Tokelau, and Pacific diaspora communities in the U.S. and New Zealand. 

In the series, we dove into the legal standard and discussed the challenges around measuring the loss of life, identity, and culture as we look to propose new legal protections for those displaced. Collaborators pointed out how the sense of urgency is often lost on policymakers and how, as difficult as it is to talk about the impacts of the climate crisis, it’s important for us to be prepared with legal protections in place for climate migrants. These insights will be incorporated into the Policy Brief which is soon to be released.

Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security Program: Regional Dialogue on Pacific Regional Framework on Climate Mobility

Later this month, we’ll be joining the regional dialogue in Fiji on the draft Pacific Regional Framework on Climate Mobility which has been a multi-year project by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Many of our project collaborators will be in attendance, and we will continue discussing the Right to Life with Dignity legal standard as we prepare to launch the Policy Brief. 

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Interview with Banaba Working Group Project Lead, Rae Bainteiti

The forced displacement of the Banaban people because of phosphate mining in 1945 has resulted in human rights violations at many levels. Currently, there is scant literature, data, and analysis about many of the human rights violations related to the forced relocation of the Banaban people. What data does exist shows Banabans continuing to inherit deficit statistics in all well being domains and stunted socio-economic, cultural, and political aspirations. These inequities are underpinned by two states’ ageing pieces of legislation (the Kiribati Constitution: Chapter IX and Fiji’s Banaban Settlement Act 1970) that govern Banaban affairs which fail to meet human rights standards for Banabans.

ICAAD and the Banaban Working Group are working together to host a series of dialogue sessions with key stakeholders on Rabi Island and Banabans overseas to ground our understanding of relocation in the legal sense and its implications for cultural, national, and social identity. The Banaba Working Group will contribute a final case study in the Right to Life with Dignity (RTLWD) Research Paper. ICAAD is supporting this work through legal research assisted by Clifford Chance and King & Wood Mallesons. 

Below, Itinterunga Rae Bainteiti, the Project Lead shares more about the project and what he has experienced in the community dialogue sessions.

Why is this project so important right now? 

Climate displacement is clearly an urgent challenge for us to address, and the displacement of Banabans has critical lessons for the climate movement, especially in the Pacific. For Banabans on Rabi Island, this project is happening at a very important time because for almost a decade now, the Rabi Council of Leaders which governs Banaban affairs has been in dissolution. This body is crucial in safeguarding Banaban affairs in Fiji and Kiribati. The work requires both legal analysis and rich community dialogue. 

Tell us more about the community dialogue sessions. 

The dialogue with communities in a culturally competent way is generating data that are missing in academic space and highlights the urgency to document as much as we can from the remaining elders.  Therefore there is an urgent need to hold more of these conversations. Banaban elders have deep knowledge about displacement, litigation, and conversations around self-determination and identity. They also have a vision for their people that calls for bolder actions for the younger generation. The sessions have provided a forum to discuss contemporary as well as long standing Banaban issues that are pertinent to Banaban development in two states: Fiji and Kiribati which become valuable lessons learnt for future climate-induced displaced communities. 

How have community members responded to the sessions? 

For 76 years, the Banabans on Rabi have lived/survived with grief and trauma. Despite this, there hasn’t been any support in the past to facilitate a space for ‘healing’. So for the elders, the spaces have been healing and therapeutic. The sessions have been unique in that they also highlight the importance of intergenerational dialogue between youths and our elders. As a youth myself, I witnessed firsthand the disconnect of our youths with issues shared by our elders because there is no enabling environment that would provide a space for these dialogues to convene especially on Right to Life with Dignity themes. Furthermore, young people are rapidly adapting to new cultures because of this disconnect. In time, this may ultimately result in the loss of our Banaban knowledge and the extinction of many of our important Banaban cultures. I have been blessed to have this intimate opportunity presented in this project to be an audience to my elders who will not be around forever. 

What insights have emerged from the work so far? 

A big takeaway for me has been understanding the importance of training on human rights and governance, among other areas. More community education and capacity building is required, thus investment in financial resources to reach all communities. Every displaced person because of environmental degradation of any form, should understand their basic human rights and have access to resources in their native language so that they can be advocates for themselves and their communities. 

Anything else to add?

In closing, I would like to sincerely acknowledge ICAAD for the partnership on “The Right to Life With Dignity Project” and for making this important work happen. As the Banabans commemorate 76 years this year on Rabi, the sad reality is that nothing major has happened in terms of development to uplift this community to thrive in their new home and in their homeland, Banaba. I hope our contribution to the Right to Life with Dignity research report will not only highlight what went wrong with the Banaban story of displacement but more importantly how policymakers, legislators, politicians and advocates can use the story of my people to craft future policies and laws that actually work for climate-induced displaced communities of the future. For us Banabans, we have a long way to go and this project is an important step in the right direction.

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For two weeks in November the world will come together to accelerate plans to avoid the irreversible impacts of climate change at COP26. Climate change presents one of the greatest existential challenges we must confront. After the Paris Agreement, countries committed to develop national plans that would further the goals of the Agreement and convene every five years to ensure its progress. Unfortunately, we can’t rely on sovereign states to achieve the lofty goals necessary to avoid the worst elements of climate change. Each individual and organization must take responsibility for stemming the tide of climate change, and protecting those who are and will be most impacted. 

Here are a few ways we are seeking to elevate the voices of and to create systems to protect those most vulnerable to the current and future impacts of climate change:

Virtual Convening Series 

This month, we were awarded $16,000 from the U.S. Consulate in New Zealand for the Right to Life with Dignity Climate Justice project. The grant will help us continue our virtual convening series with climate activists and share out the work next year. To date, we have hosted 14 virtual convenings with over 30 local and Indigenous climate advocates. Next year, we plan to host another 20 virtual convenings to connect with at least 50 additional climate advocates. 

Roundtable Event with Robin Bronen

On November 5th, the Right to Life with Dignity Team will be consulting with Robin Bronen, a human rights lawyer working with displaced Alaskan Native communities. The roundtable event will cover some of the key outstanding questions the team has as we continue developing the legal standard and modeling pieces. 

Banaba Project Underway

The Banaba Local Government and Civil Society Working Group has kicked off their series of community dialogue sessions around colonial displacement, statelessness, and the right to life with dignity. The team on Rabi Island will be gathering community members across each of the four villages as well as Village Chairpersons, the Rabi Council of Leaders, and Banaban elders. This work will be supported with pro bono legal research coordinated by the ICAAD team to better understand the legal ramifications of the displacement of Banabans from Banaba to Rabi Island in Fiji. 

Climate Relocation and Human Rights in the Pacific Virtual Panel

The Team will be hosting a panel event with the U.S. Consulate in New Zealand and the Young Pacific Leaders Network on November 8th from 7-8:30pm (EST). The event will cover the latest developments in the Right to Life with Dignity project and insights from climate advocates we have been working with, including Rae Bainteiti who is leading the Banaba project. Watch via Zoom or join at an in-person watch party at any of the U.S. Embassies in the Pacific. Register here.

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Research & Modeling

The research and modeling team is well underway developing the concept to move forward with. Working closely with our law firm partner, King & Wood Mallesons, we are further developing international definitions for dignity and imminence in the law to ensure climate-induced migrants have safe and protected options. We are also diving into the modeling of “right to life with dignity” violations in order to support this legal framework. 

Virtual Convenings

Over the past few weeks, we have held virtual convenings with community and youth leaders from Kiribati, Tokelau, and Tuvalu, low-lying, large ocean states in the Pacific region. Their insights have demonstrated both the gaps in current efforts to expand legal protections and ideas for how to move forward. Host countries like New Zealand have a lot to do to not only expand legal protections but to ensure host communities are upholding the rights of those displaced by the climate crisis. 

We also joined the two day CSO consultation run by the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security program. The discussion brought together over 30 CSOs, academics, church leaders, and youth leaders to discuss the big questions around climate mobility. The resounding conclusions were that policy must be inclusive, governments must be held accountable, and cultural heritage must be protected. 

Banaba Case Study

One insight raised in the convenings is that there have been several examples of displacement related to nuclear testing, extractive industries, and climate change in the past century in the Pacific that can be learned from. One of those examples which gives us an important case study in terms of thinking about regional climate migration is the displacement of Banabans from Banaba Island to Fiji, specifically Rabi Island. The legislation, impacts of colonization, and the reflections on the human rights violations against displaced communities make this case study particularly useful when exploring what the “right to life with dignity” means in relation to climate migration. We will be exploring this case study with convening collaborators. 

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Organization Information

International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD)

Location: Chappaqua, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ICAADglobal
Project Leader:
Hansdeep Singh
Co-Founder, Director of Legal Programmes
Chappaqua, NY United States
$18,566 raised of $75,000 goal
 
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