The government of Indonesia is preparing to do mass relocation’s of people living on islands considered vulnerable to rising sea levels over the next three decades.
Experts and Government officials fear that about 2,000 islands across the country will be underwater by between 2030 and 2040 due to rising sea levels caused by global warming. Indonesia has over 17,000 islands, of which, about 6,000 are populated.
“We have formed a technical team who will identify the islands which could sink, “Maritime and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi told the International Round-table Meeting of World Ocean Conference here Thursday. He went on to add “The government has prepared a contingency plan, which includes relocation of residents off the islands.”
Freddy said the islands were located in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua, and called on the international community to join forces in anticipating the disaster that would affect the whole world.
“Indonesia will only see small islands disappear, but there will be a country that is at risk of completely sinking due to the rising sea levels. Therefore, all countries must take this issue seriously.”
Riau Governor Ismeth Abdullah said the sea level increases were the result of global warming and would affect uninhabited islands in the province in the long run. Local fisherman are already feeling the pinch from climate change, he added.
“Climate change has cut the fishermen’s income because many fish are now gone,” Ismeth said. His administration has promoted mangrove reforestation to deal with the increasing sea levels.
Experts, representatives of regional governments and maritime and fisheries institutes from 13 countries, including from Europe and Southeast Asia, attended the round-table meeting.
The forum is expected to help formulate the Manado Declaration, which will cap the World Ocean Conference on May 11-15, 2009 in the North Sulawesi capital. The declaration will provide a reference of global maritime development and conservation.
Photo courtesy of Nature Explorer via Creative Commons licence