Pacific Islanders will stage a day of songs and dances across 15 nations on Saturday 2 March to highlight the impact rising sea levels are having on their way of life.
“We are not drowning, We are fighting” is the key message from organisers, backed by UNICEF and campaign group 350.org.
In Samoa players from the national rugby team will stage their famous Manu Siva War dance together with 200 school children.
Kiribati, whose citizens face evacuation due to flooding, will witness a 1000-strong warriors challenge at sunset.
And in Fiji politician and TV personality Manoa Rasigatale will launch the Na Bole – Fijian Warriors Challenge, to show that Fijians are: “proud, resilient and determined” to face up to climate change.
350 Pacific spokesperson Mikaele Maiava explained the day’s title: “We do not want to be perceived as vulnerable victims to this global crisis of climate change but as fighting warriors.”
The Pacific Islands are often described as being on the front line of climate change, facing droughts, rising sea levels and intense storms linked to global warming.
A temperature rise above 2°C on pre-industrial levels could lead to climatic changes that make many of these islands uninhabitable.
A study published by the UN Environment Programme in November 2012 revealed that 10 million people in 500 communities were at risk in the region.
Low-lying islands are at particular risk and could face losses of up to 18% of GDP because of climate change, the study found.
A 1989 UN report cited Kiribati as one of the countries likely to completely disappear in the 21st century from rising sea levels.
And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report predicted sea-levels to rise between 18 and 59 cm by the end of the century.
At the recent UN climate talks in Doha Kieren Keke, Nauru Minister of Foreign Affairs and lead negotiator for small island states, expressed his frustration at the lack of progress to cut global emissions.
“We have not seen any increase in the commitments needed to achieve the global temperature goal, ensure we meet our ultimate objective of the Convention, keep global average temperature below 1.5 degrees and ensure the survival of all islands,” he said.
“There is no new finance on the table, only promises that something might materialize in the future. Finance was missing in Durban and it remains missing here in Doha.
“It is difficult to see how we can continue this process unless we mobilise the necessary financial resources to enable the urgently needed funding for mitigation and adaptation.”
To mark the Day of Action TV Producers Speciality Studios are offering their award-winning film The Hungry Tide free online.
It chronicles the plight of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, which is already being inundated by rising seas and could become the world’s first climate-induced migration of an entire nation.
The Hungry Tide from Specialty Studios on Vimeo.