Marshalls local govt first to initiate, fund climate action

12:42 pm on 11 May 2018

By Giff Johnson

Majuro - The Kwajalein Atoll Council is the first local government in the Marshall Islands to address growing concerns about the impact of climate change by adopting a resolution to focus attention and action on the looming threats, including plans to spend $US120,000 annually for developing and teaching a curriculum on the issue.

An aerial view looking south down the Marshall Islands atoll of Ebeye.

An aerial view looking south down the Marshall Islands atoll of Ebeye. Photo: Anjojo Kabua

The resolution was adopted by the Kwajalein Atoll Council on April 30, just days after the release of a new climate study funded by the US Defense Department that focused on Roi-Namur, a small islands within Kwajalein Atoll that houses major infrastructure used by the Reagan Test Site for anti-missile defense tests.

This study concluded that between the 2030s and 2060s, these islands will likely become uninhabitable because of increased damage to fresh water and infrastructure from ocean flooding.

The local government resolution sets forth local, national and international actions the Kwajalein Atoll Council wants to set in motion - including a request to the US government for climate aid.

These include:

- Instructing the Kwajalein Board of Education to create a climate change curriculum "that explains the science behind global climate change".

- Approving a new Office of Climate Change Adaption, Resilience and Sustainability to facilitate the education work.

- Resolving that a minimum of $US120,000 annually from Ebeye Special Needs education funding provided by the US government through the Compact of Free

Association will be devoted to developing and teaching the new climate curriculum.

- Initiating, in conjunction with a new school curriculum, an oral history project to "record and preserve the memories, knowledge and wisdom of Kwajalein elders".

- Urging Nitijela (parliament) to support establishment of a national climate curriculum "to maximize opportunities for collaboration between Kwajalein and other school districts".

- Resolving to establish a Kwajalein Climate Change Education Trust Fund to "provide full tuition, housing and transportation costs for any Marshallese student from Kwajalein Atoll to attend any university or institution of higher learning they are admitted to for the purposes of studying how to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change on Small Island Developing States and the preservation of Marshallese history, language and culture".

- Approving a request to Nitijela to contact the US Secretaries of Defense and State, according to Section 313(c) of the Compact, to request their departments "recognize climate change as an existential national security threat to the sovereignty of the Marshall Islands requiring the same diplomatic support and military assistance from the United States as when our nation is being attacked by a foreign military power".

The resolution was signed by Kwajalein Mayor Hirata Kabua and attested by Capelle Antibas, clerk to the council.