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Climate Change and Conflict Policy Brief  No.49 - September, 2019

Climate Change and Urbanisation in Pacific Island Countries

Rates of urbanisation vary considerably among the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories, some of which have among the highest population densities in the world despite these countries being relatively small. Growth in the number of urban residents has led to the emergence of informal settlements on sites which are often on marginal land that is highly exposed to the effects of extreme events. It is likely that climate change will cause greater numbers of people to migrate to urban areas as their home locations become increasingly less habitable. Many will find themselves again living in exposed locations. Additionally, having little land tenure security, high levels of unemployment or underemployment, crowding, lack of infrastructure, crime and lack of access to land for food are likely to render many of these migrants vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As climate change continues to unfold, urban areas in the Pacific Islands region may find themselves particularly at risk. Urban planning which takes the likelihood of climate change into account is critically important.