From Anglicans Online:
A member of Australia’s Anglican Overseas Aid recently traveled on an annual trip led by the Anglican Church of Malaita to visit Ontong Java, the most northerly part of the Solomon Islands. She writes in the Solomon Star,
‘After 2000 years of settlement, it is increasingly likely that Ontong Java’s 2000 inhabitants will be its last, and bear the unenviable label of being one of the first communities in the world to be completely resettled as a result of climate change. My aim [for participating in the trip] was to see if my organisation…could do anything to support the people of these islands. I quickly discovered that very little can be done apart from ongoing talks about resettlement between the island communities, the Anglican Church and the Solomon Islands Government.’
From The Solomon Star:
The church supported innovative permaculture projects to increase food production but after a single harvest the plants were unable to continue producing. There was simply too much salt.
Though they lack many things, the people of Ontong Java are rich with integrity, they are wise and they are resilient. And they know they have to move. As one man from Pelau said: “We are wasting our time with adaptation – the sea eats our attempts at adaptation.”
But finding an alternative place to move to is an extremely complex process in Solomon Islands; there are suggestions that they might relocate to the Melanesian island of Malaita, but it is the most heavily populated island in the country and already overwhelmed by disputes over land.
The plight of the people of Ontong Java highlights the complexities of climate change now, and the importance of urgent action to prevent the need for mass relocations into the future.