By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – As coastal cities discuss ways to mitigate the effects of sea level rise in their communities, a tiny atoll of islands in the Pacific Ocean calls on the world to help them from becoming ‘sitting ducks’ as sea levels rise and vanish with part of its country.
“We have to do something, because the only other option is to sit there and wait for the water to come,” said Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine last week during an interview to AFP in Geneva, Switzerland.
President Heine is trying to get the United Nation’s attention on the effects climate change has brought to her country. She said there is need for ‘dramatic climate action and international support’ for the Marshall Islands.
The official explains that the majority of its 1,156 islands is slowly being flooded by ocean water and that several projects are underway to try to reverse the process. According to her, Marshall Island’s GDP share dedicated to disaster risk management and preparedness has doubled from five to ten percent over the past four years.
“In order for the Marshall Islands, as a country and as a culture and as a people… to remain in the future, we need to make sure we have higher grounds,” she said. Heine says that her country needs to ‘raise its islands’ to avoid ‘getting drowned’ by the ocean.
For that the Marshall Islands was able to obtain funding from a partnership between the World Bank and the Green Climate Fund (GFC) for the Pacific Resilience Project Phase II to support its population from sea water. The amount of funding announced in February of this year is said to be close to US$44 million.
“The Pacific Resilience Project is critical to the future of the Marshal Islands and its people. GFC prioritizes support to Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which are so vulnerable to the impact of climate change,” said GFC’s executive director, Javier Manzanares, during the announcement of the creation of the fund.