In August 2008, the ”People’s Assembly on Sustainable Solutions for Victims of Sea-Level Rise” in Brisbane, Australia will bring together ordinary citizens and experts to propose realistic solutions to address the consequences of climate change and to recommend appropriate measures in the case of large-scale refugee displacement in the Asia-Pacific region resulting from rising sea levels.
Warming seas, melting glaciers and retreating ocean ice are causing sea levels to rise, leaving coastal cities, towns, food and water supplies increasingly at risk. Scientists predict that 145 million people in the Asia-Pacific region can be displaced if seas rise by 1 meter while others predict a potential 5 meter rise which would endanger low-lying Pacific Islands and large population centers in coastal cities such as Jakarta and Dhaka. At the moment, no international convention covers the issue of environmental displacement caused by rising sea levels. Furthermore, governments around the world need to incorporate actions to address climate change in future policies.
In the words of the Green Cross Australia national headquarters, “By acting now we can avert the worst case scenarios”. This concept is applied through the framework of the People’s Assembly, through the active involvement of ordinary citizens and experts in an informed deliberative decision-making process. In August 2008, Green Cross will enlist a group of Australian citizens to discuss the possibilities and consequences for the region, forming a Citizen’s Panel to collaborate with experts from the scientific, humanitarian, environmental, business, security and legal fields. This group of 15 people will form the Citizen’s Panel at the People’s Assembly. The People’s Assembly will consist of discussions, examinations of the consequences of large-scale refugee displacement and final recommendations made by the Panel proposing concrete steps to address environmental issues. In other words, the Citizen’s Panel will deliver a ‘verdict’ on how Australia should concentrate on and tackle the issue of rising sea levels and refugee displacement. The final verdict will also include a set of specific recommendations for business leaders, scientists and policy makers.
A final report outlining the recommendations of the People’s Assembly will be produced after extensive dialogue and deliberation. Once finalized, the report will be released to the media, business sector, general public and the government to consider the recommendations of the Panel in future policies and agendas. The People’s Assembly is a critical event in the mission of Green Cross to promote global interdependence and shared responsibility for a just, sustainable and secure future for all.