The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission recently undertook a climate change project to determine the impact of climate change on the human rights of vulnerable communities and the environment.
The project was facilitated by the Asia Pacific Forum and funded by the European Union.
HRADC chair Pravesh Sharma said: “Section 40 of the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji states that every person has the right to a clean and healthy environment, which includes the right to have the natural world protected for the benefit of present and future generations through legislative and other measures.”
He said addressing climate change and its adverse impact on the human rights of vulnerable communities and their environment in Fiji, is one of the priorities in the Commission’s Strategic Plan.
“The Commission interviewed 185 people from 27 communities residing along the coastal, maritime and rural areas from the Provinces of Rewa, Tailevu, Serua, Nadroga-Navosa, Ba, Ra, Macuata, and Bua.”
“Issues faced included erosion of foundations of homes, community halls and schools; erosion of bridges, roads and burial grounds, source of livelihood and subsistence farming greatly affected by the infiltration of seawater into plantations, drinking water and sanitation, fishing habitats had been affected and catches were of poor quality; and in deforested regions, heavy rains were causing landslides whereby mud was being washed into villages and homes.”
Sharma said the remedies the residents seek include seawalls be built or sand bags be placed to prevent the sea water coming onto their compounds; financial assistance with relocation to higher ground; replanting of trees in deforested areas; mangrove seedlings to be planted along the coastline; and more climate change and environmental awareness.
The Commission intends to present its findings to the Government and requests the plight of the 27 communities and their residents be included in the Standard Operating Procedure for relocation of villages which was launched on 18 April 2023.