Under threat from rising sea levels and tsunamis, the authorities of a provincial capital in the Solomon Islands have decided to relocate from a small island in the first such case in the Pacific islands.
Choiseul, a township of around 1,000 people on Taro Island, a coral atoll in Choiseul Bay, is less than two meters (6.6 feet) above sea level. Its vulnerability to storm surges and tsunamis caused by earthquakes is expected to be compounded in the future by rising seas.
Aware of these risks, communities in Choiseul Bay consulted a team of engineers, scientists and planners, funded by the Australian government, on how best to adapt to the impact of climate change.
It was decided they would take disaster prevention measures in the short term but also build a new town on an adjacent mainland where the population will be moved in stages.
"The project followed the ways of our traditions – talking with people, listening to people and reflecting the desires of the people," Jackson Kiloe, premier of Choiseul Province, said in a statement on Friday.
Philip Haines, project manager for BMT WBM, an international consultancy that worked on the strategy, said relocation was the only option that would keep the community safe but it would take “many decades” to complete.
Land to build a new, larger settlement catering for some 5,000 inhabitants has already been acquired, Haines said.