Climate displacement – close to home


Ursula Rakova’s entire community at Carteret Islands is currently relocating because of the impacts of climate change. Together with Pais Taehu, Chairman of the Coalition of the Atolls, she sets out to open a dialogue about what moves Australians and about what Australia’s response should be now.

Ursula Rakova is a great speaker and has a compelling story to tell on the climate change precipitated relocation of atoll peoples to Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, and the implications for climate justice in an Australian context.

The two atoll islanders Australian speaking tour on climate displacement in Papua New Guinea started on 9 April and runs to 22 April. It includes speaking events in Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, the Sunshine Coast, and Brisbane. The Geelong event is on this Friday, 15 April. See their tour calendar below.

The two visiting speakers are:

· Ursula Rakova, director of Tulele Peisa, the Carteret Islands relocation program in Bougainville

· Pais Taehu, Chairman of the Coalition of the Atolls – Temarai Association – comprising the four atoll groups within the Bougainville political boundary

Friends of the Earth Australia is hosting this tour with a range of partners, including Caritas and Oxfam Australia.

» Details and background information on

» Ursula Rakova and Pais Taehu speak in Geelong on Friday 15 April 2016 at 6:00–7:30pm at All Saints Church, 113 Noble Street, Newtown. » Facebook event page

“We cannot isolate human rights from environmental rights as the two will always go together. When climate change is an issue is cuts into the very fabric of society as it begins to displace peoples and communities from their customary and traditional values and accepted way of life, forcing them to move because they cannot continue to live in their home surroundings as they will either face death or be forced to move by nature.”

“It does not matter where people live, they still cling to their inheritance and way of life as given by their forebears. But climate change has intruded into the lives of many culturally distinct and traditional societies. Now, for example, the Carteret Islanders have moved to mainland Bougainville, not because of their own choice but because the situation is forcing them to move to safe and secure locations for the protection of their wellbeing and that of their children and grandchildren.”
Ursula Rakova


Public event on Tuesday 12 April 2016 at 6:00pm
Peter Cosgrove Centre, Tenison Woods House – Australian Catholic University 8-20 Napier St, North Sydney
Starting time 6:00pm. Media opportunities from 5.30pm. Light refreshments afterwards.
Brendan Joyce: 0413 990 580
Eventbrite registration page for Sydney event

Public forum on Thursday 14 April 2016 at 7:00–8:30pm
Melbourne event co-hosted with Oxfam Australia and University of Melbourne Student Union Environment Department.
Elizabeth Murdoch building, Melbourne University
Enter off Swanston Street. It is just south of Tin Alley / Elgin Street. Also known as the Old Pathology building.
Facebook event page

Public evening event on Friday 15 April 2016 at 6:00–7:30pm
All Saints Church, 113 Noble Street, Newtown
» Facebook event page

Tuesday 19 April 2016 at 7–9pm
Venue: Sandbag Community Centre, 153 Rainbow St, Sandgate
Co-host: Year for Peace group
Facebook event page
Contacts: Janine Quine 0432 607 751 – Wendy Flannery 0439 771 692

Wednesday 20 April 2016 at 12noon
Venue: Lecture Theatre 7, Sippy Downs Campus, University of the Sunshine Coast

Wednesday 20 April 2016, evening
Speaking and dialogue event with members of church communities
Details to be confirmed.

Resettlement of 6,000 atoll island inhabitants

In 2005, after years of watching land being swallowed by the ocean and crops and water sources contaminated by salt water inundation, the elders of the Carteret Islands decided to initiate a relocation program to mainland Bougainville. In 2006 they set up Tulele Peisa, an organisation to assist with the relocation process.

An “in principle” agreement was reached in 2007 between the national government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to resettle the 6,000 inhabitants of the Carterets and three other atoll groups – the Mortlock, Tasman and Fead Islands – to the large island of Bougainville. However, no outcomes have been reached to date from this agreement.

The Carteret elders recruited Ursula Rakova, herself from the Carterets, as director of Tulele Peisa, meaning in the Halia language “Sailing the waves on our own”. It has continued to operate as an NGO, with its programs made possible with donations of land by the local Catholic diocese, and funding from a range of mainly overseas donors.

In 2007 Tulele Peisa became an affiliate of Friends of the Earth Australia.

“For people living on the thousands of islands that dot the seas, climate change isn’t just a threat. Sea level rise is already eating their land from the coast lines inward, and in some cases threatening to sink them entirely. But new research suggests that by mid-century, 73 percent of all islands may have drinking water shortages to contend with too. That means 18 million people might not have enough freshwater to drink. And that not-so-small detail is not currently included in our global climate models.”

» Newsweek – 12 April 2016:
Most Islands Are Too Small to Register In Climate Models, but They’re in Trouble