Report

Climate change and the future governance of the micro-island states of the Indian Ocean Region

17 Apr 2014
Description

The micro-island states of the Indian Ocean Region face an uncertain future due to climate change. This paper examines four possible solutions to their existential problems.

Summary

While the major powers quibble over the fine print of climate change agreements, small island countries and countries with extensive, low-lying coastal plains face an uncertain future. The people of these countries face serious threats to their existence because of a man-made problem to which they may not have necessarily contributed much. In a number of cases, these countries do not have the resources to deal with the problem on their own and, therefore, have no option but to wait for the rest of the world to apportion responsibility and take collective action. In light of the never-ending climate change negotiations and difficulties in ensuring the timely implementation of potential commitments, if any, by major polluters, we should examine other solutions.

This paper first discusses the circumstances of the Indian Ocean micro-island states before examining four possible solutions to their existential problems: legal action against major polluting countries, natural depopulation, planned resettlement, and political union or free association with a larger state. Of all the available options, political union/free association with a larger state is most likely to secure the future of the citizens of these micro-island states. A set of criteria is outlined to identify potential federation or free association partners.

Key Points

  • The micro-island states of the Indian Ocean Region face an uncertain future due to climate change.
  • Some of those countries do not have sufficient resources to deal with the challenges facing them, even as their ethno-linguistic heritage, biodiversity and, in a few cases, even existence are endangered.
  • Of the available options, political union/free association with a larger state is most likely to secure the future of the citizens of the vulnerable micro-island states.
  • A set of criteria is outlined to identify countries with which micro-island states could possibly federate or freely associate.
Publication Details
Published year only: 
2014
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