VILLAGERS of Marau, east Guadalcanal, are living in fear.
Sea level rise, they say, is eating away their shorelines and digging into their village.
They don’t feel safer anymore. They feel their future is in jeopardy.
To them, climate change is real. It is happening right before their eyes.
They wanted to be relocated to safer grounds.
Marau villagers are not alone in this.
Many villagers across the country living on smaller islands or in coastal areas are facing similar fate.
Climate is just not a topic for discussion anymore. It is real. Its impact is here, and slowly taking its toll on coastal villages across the nation.
Experiences our villagers are going through was a confirmation of what were stated in a new report released yesterday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The report paints the starkest picture yet of the extreme challenges facing our planet as a direct result of climate change.
Climate change is not going to spare anyone or any region, the report stated.
The whole world is going to be affected in different ways.
But residents of smaller islands states such as ours and our Pacific neighbours are going to be hard hit.
One of the most crucial findings that we must take from this report is the critical importance of practical climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes, along with other activities that foster island resilience and reduce vulnerabilities to climate change.
On a more upbeat note, the report singles out community based adaptation projects in small island states as delivering significant benefits, especially when run in conjunction with other development activities.
This underlines the importance of regional activities such as the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) programme, a joint initiative of SPREP and UNDP.
This programme has been working well in communities of Sikaiana and Lord Howe in the Malaita Outer Islands.
The report suggested that small islands need to consider several approaches to adaptation such as using a whole of island approach, which combines legislative policy with capacity building and protection and better management of natural ecosystems.
The communities of Choiseul and Abaiang, Kiribati, are trialing this approach with their governments and partners.
The government needs to seriously look into this new report.
But more so, it needs to look at the “real situation” our people in Marau and other smaller islands are facing as the sea continues to rise.
We must not pretend all is well.