Pacific Island Countries: An Early Warning of Climate Change Impacts

Caroline Anitha Devadason, Luke Jackson, Jennifer Cole

Research output: Book/ReportOther report


Pacific Island Countries (PICs), most of which are small independent island states, are on the frontline of the threat from anthropogenic climate change. Direct impacts such as damage to property and risk to human health from extreme weather events, as well as indirect effects through long-term inundation, salination of inland water courses, reduction in economicproductivity
and increasing stress upon their health and governance systems, all threaten significant impacts on economic development and human well-being.

Anthropogenic global warming threatens to inundate coastal regions, contributi
ng to land loss and altering PIC ecosystems. Changing precipitation patterns impact the replenishment of freshwater reserves, exacerbating resource challenges already strained by population rise, agriculture and urbanisation. The degradation of natural environments by strip mining, deforestation and other
destructive processes have resulted in biodiversity loss and have altered the diets and food systems of local inhabitants. But, it is through water that environmental change exerts its most immediate impacts.

PICs have contributed the least towards climate change, yet feel its effects on their land and livelihoods, especially in the areas of fisheries, agriculture and tourism. The geographical remoteness and limited human capital of many of these islands afford them little agency. However, the large proportion of their, albeit small, populations and critical infrastructure located in low-elevation coastal zones (land adjacent to the coast within 10 metres above sea level) offer potential early warnings of future challenges likely to be faced by larger island nations, and of all nations with a high proportion of coastal land, as sea levels continue to rise.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford UK
PublisherOxford Martin School, Oxford University
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Pacific Islands
  • Sea Level rise
  • climate change

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