The Republic of Vanuatu, an island archipelago in the South Pacific, is according to the 2021 UN University World Risk Index, and has been consistently ranked as the country with the highest disaster risk worldwide by the Institute for Environment and Human Security. Without rapid and far-reaching action, low-lying atoll States like Vanuatu are predicted to be rendered uninhabitable by mid-century, threatening the very existence of their cultures, statehood, and sovereignty.
As set out in the recent IPCC Sixth Assessment Synthesis Report, climate change is contributing to humanitarian crises where climate hazards interact with high vulnerability.
Climate change is already having severe impacts on all sectors especially agriculture, water, coastal and marine resources and infrastructure as well as tourism. Climate extremes and slow onset events are causing catastrophic loss and damage, both economic and non-economic, including to biodiversity and cultural identities, and indigenous-held customary lands. For Vanuatu, recent weather events – such as two back to back Category 4 Cyclones Judy and Kevin in 2023, as well as Category 5 Cyclone Harold in 2020 – have destroyed homes and entire villages, resulted in loss of life, and wiped out a third of Vanuatu’s GDP in a single day.
Vanuatu has been a leader in the climate justice movement for decades. Vanuatu has recently led the Call for a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific, and a full phase out of global fossil fuel production as part of a Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty, while also spearheading the addition of ‘Ecocide’ as a crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and demanding a moratorium on all Deep Sea Mining activities as no precautionary and science-based regulations are yet in place.
Through this transformational ICJ Initiative, Vanuatu aims to bring a voice to vulnerable and marginalised populations, including indigenous peoples, migrants, women, children, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and the poor, who are the most at risk to the impacts of climate change.
Vanuatu’s aim is to work in coalition with all vulnerable nations, peoples and supporters, raising our small but powerful voice in all fora. We look forward to working alongside civil society, including youth, as well as experts from all disciplines in this historic endeavor towards an AO from the ICJ
For more information, email us on VanuatuICJ@gmail.com.