In 2003, the people of the Carteret Islands became the world’s first environmental refugees when Papua New Guinea authorized a government-funded evacuation of the islands. It currently takes just 15 minutes to walk the length of the largest island.
Not one of the Maldives 1,200 islands is more than 6 feet above sea level, so as the world continues to heat up, it’s likely the country’s 400,000 residents could soon be homeless. President Nasheed has established a fund using tourism dollars to buy land in other countries where his people can relocate if the nation is flooded. Possible relocation spots include India and Sri Lanka.
Anote Tong, president of Kiribati, a low-lying Pacific nation made up of multiple islands, says the international community has a duty to look after those people forced from their homes by climate change, and he has asked Australia and New Zealand to give his people homes.