Real lives: Meet George in Vanuatu
Climate change is a global threat, but Pacific Island countries are bearing the brunt of its impacts and are already experiencing loss and damage. Oxfam is supporting local climate change networks in the Pacific, who have taken the injustice of climate change to the highest court in the world.
George lives in Vanuatu, one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world. He describes his nation as resilient but says the threat of climate change is existential.
“Our ancestors passed down learning, especially for things like cyclones … The difference now is the strength of the cyclones [has] increased. We need to integrate the traditional knowledge and the scientific knowledge to make it more robust."
George is spearheading critical action by working with Oxfam in Vanuatu and coordinating the Vanuatu Climate Action Network (VCAN), a network of NGOs coordinating stakeholders to influence climate change policy.
The network had a huge win this year when it took the climate crisis to the highest court in the world. Oxfam, VCAN and a global alliance of civil society groups in 130 countries called for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to offer an advisory opinion on the impact of climate change on human rights. The advisory opinion, though non-binding, will clarify the right of people and states, particularly small-island states, to a safe climate, and the need for countries like Australia to match the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and tackle the climate emergency.
In March 2023, the United Nations General Assembly announced that it had moved to support the resolution; it was officially supported by 120 leaders.
The results of supporting local climate networks to advocate for their rights are now being felt on a global stage, and George believes they will benefit all of us.
“Nobody is immune to the impacts of climate change and we are seeing that across the globe on a weekly basis. Everybody needs to realise that we are all in the same boat,” George said.
About the project
Oxfam’s project Pacific Climate Change Collaboration, Influencing and Learning (PACCCIL) is fostering collaborative and inclusive responses to climate change and disaster preparedness in the Pacific region. Oxfam partners with local climate networks to help them influence government, the private sector and civil society to develop climate policies.
PACCCIL is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).
Our local partners
Oxfam works with the Solomon Islands Climate Action Network (which the project helped to found) and the Vanuatu Climate Action Network, providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to advocate government and the private sector for sustainable climate action.
Highlights for 2022-2023
This year, VCAN lobbied for more local organisations to be part of Vanuatu’s Conference of the Parties (COP27) delegation, and funded and delivered training for delegates.