Rising Nations Initiative

The Issue

In this century, several Pacific island nations will lose considerable territory to rising sea level with some becoming completely uninhabitable. The Pacific atoll countries of Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives are at the very forefront of an existential crisis.

The irreversible impacts of climate change are already shifting the world order, politically, economically and socially. Current efforts to limit global average temperature rise, even if achieved, will fail to avert many climate tipping points, which science shows are ‘baked in’ to a global average temperature increase of 1.5C. Whilst nobody is immune to the impacts of the climate crisis, the peoples of Pacific atoll countries, in our generation or the next, will be unable to exist on the islands that have nurtured their ancestors for centuries.

Pacific island countries account for 0.03% of global emissions today yet they will bear the brunt of inevitable sea level rise. Internationally agreed treaties and conventions do not make adequate provision for the protection of statehood and sovereignty under the profound circumstances faced by the small low-lying nations.

Rising sea level causes salt water to permeate aquifers, reducing available water for drinking and agriculture. It also brings higher tides, increasing storm intensity and flooding, and weakening natural defences. Tourism and the availability of fish-stock perish along with the bleaching of coral reefs, pushing up the cost of living and forcing families to leave their communities until eventually nations themselves are threatened.

The Rising Nations Initiative

Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands have begun a clarion call for a global settlement that guarantees their nation states a permanent existence beyond the inhabitable lifetime of their atoll homes. It must recognise and protect their sovereignty, cultural integrity, human and economic capital. It must be co-created and enacted with the peoples and governments of their island nations. 

The Rising Nations Initiative puts forward a four-point plan to protect the nationhood of Pacific atoll island countries and preserve their sovereignty, rights, culture and heritage.


Political Declaration

First, press forward a political declaration that will reaffirm the commitment of the international community to preserve the sovereignty and rights of Pacific atoll island countries facing the existential threat of sea level rise.



Second, launch a comprehensive adaptation program to build and finance adaptation and resilience projects to improve the adaptive capacity of local communities to sustain livelihoods, as well as efforts to protect the Exclusive Economic Zones of Pacific atoll
island countries.

Heritage Project

Third, support the Rising Nations Heritage Project which will provide a living repository of the rich culture and unique heritage of each country and ensure that all future generations will be able to experience the one-of-a-kind beauty and richness of the heritage and culture of their country.

World Heritage

Fourth, support Pacific atoll island countries to acquire UNESCO World Heritage designation, to attain recognition for outstanding universal value to humanity amidst the climate crisis, and to mobilise efforts and resources towards protecting the countries’ heritage, culture and geography.