Fiji launches community relocation SOP

Fiji this week unveiled its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) outlining the specific processes for the relocation of communities impacted by climate change.

The SOP, which was first drafted in late 2020 and released in Suva this week, draws on lessons learned from the relocation of six communities in Fiji, including Vunidogoloa, Narikoso, and Denimanu.

It will be piloted in the relocation of Nabavatu village, which was affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasa in December 2020, and will also guide the assessment of over 40 other communities identified for relocation.

Speaking at the launch yesterday Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade Manoa Kamikamica said government agencies have been working with the communities to identify suitable relocation sites noting their cultural, social, and economic values and needs.

“As a small island developing state, Fiji is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, changes to our natural ecosystems, and shifts in weather patterns threaten our homes, communities, and way of life,” Kamikamica said.

“Relocation is not something we take lightly. It is a last resort, a response to the most severe impacts of climate change. However, we must plan for it, as some of our communities will become uninhabitable in the future, according to scientific predictions.”

The launch of the SOP comes almost a month since it was approved by the Fiji cabinet. The SOP is said to have been developed with a human-centered approach, taking into account human rights, participatory and inclusive processes, preemptive actions, livelihood-based approaches, gender equality, disability and social inclusion, and protection of the rights of children, including free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

The SOP underscores the importance of obtaining prior informed community consent for all important decisions at each stage of the relocation process.

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