In May 2004 about three thousand women and men from Tuvalu have migrated because of the climate change
Valerio Calzolaio has been following for a number of years to developments in world migration with expertise and attention. In 2010 he published a book, reprinted in 2016, titled "Ecoprofughi". Forced migration of yesterday, today and tomorrow (Ed. NDA), followed by Libertà di migrare (Freedom of migration) written with Telmo Pievani (Ed. Einaudi).
Invited as an expert at the RomeSymposium 2017 on Climate Change, Valerio Calzolaio has presented to the international experts gathered from all over the world at the European Space Agency (ESA) a report on the various aspects and points of view of migration and the status of refugees. Below is an excerpt of his report describing a case of forced migration caused by climate change.
Tuvalu is a small island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, 3,400 km northeast of Australia, with 11,000 inhabitants (it’s the third least-inhabited country in the world). It is an independent nation since 1978 and a member of the UN since 2000. The islands of Tuvalu have suffered for a long time the effects of climate change: the sea rises at least 6 mm a year, villages are often flooded, white-sand beaches are disappearing.
In May 2004, about 3,000 Tuvaluan women and men officially became potential climate refugees. New Zealand has convened an immigration program recognizing their status of climate refugees. But not every Tuvaluan citizen could leave the country. Australia initially chose not to join New Zealand because the government did not want to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
Then, in July 2015, New Zealand rejected the first official request for climatic refugee status. Teitiota, 38 years old, a native of Kiribati, a Pacific Ocean island threatened by rising sea levels, had submitted a request for climatic asylum claiming that he, his wife and his three children, all born in New Zealand, would be in a deadly danger if they were repatriated. However, the New Zealand Supreme Court ruled that Teitiota did not meet the criteria required to obtain the refugee status. Although Kiribati is “incontestably facing” climatic challenges, the Supreme Court ruled that “Teitiota is not in a serious danger in his native country.”
Kiribati, along with the Maldives, Tuvalu and Tokelau, is part of the island states that could be “landless” because of global warming, according to the UN Human Rights Commission. Large archipelago areas, consisting of about thirty coral atolls, most of which are just above the sea level, are regularly flooded by the ocean.
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