Why Pacific Islands? Why Now? A Case for Philanthropy

Otaki Beach. Photo: Rucha Chitnis

Otaki Beach. Photo: Rucha Chitnis

The Pacific Islands include the regions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia and span over 300,000 square miles of land. These biodiverse-rich islands are home to many Indigenous communities, who are on the frontline protecting their homelands, culture and food sovereignty.
Pacific Islands, like Tuvalu and Marshall Islands, are ground zero of climate change. Climate change disasters are forcing thousands of Pacific Islanders to migrate. These disasters are posing as a significant existential threat to island communities, who are disproportionately bearing the burden of a changing climate. Dr. Rys Jones, a Māori physician and scholar, suggested that climate change was a continuation of the colonization process of a Western extractive economic growth model that left Indigenous communities vulnerable across the world. He asserted that Indigenous knowledge systems are vital for moving towards a more holistic and sustainable way of living in harmony with Mother Earth. 
Pacific Islands, like Papua New Guinea, are also on the frontline of a bold resistance to stop deep sea mining. Dr. Silvia Earle called deep sea mining an “invisible land grab.” According to Greenpeace, deep seabed mining could have “serious impacts on the ocean environment and the future livelihoods and wellbeing of coastal communities. Only 3% of the oceans are protected and less than 1% of the high seas, making them some of the least protected places on Earth.”

 “Our Pacific Ocean is the final frontier that multinational companies are preparing to exploit marine resources. There is now a rush by private companies supported by foreign governments to secure exploration and mining rights to our ocean floor which is rich in mineral depositions. Our ocean is significant to us and we need to protect it.” 

Pacific Network on Globalization