The Carteret People
All 3,000 Carteret Pacific Islanders are relocating to another community off Papua New Guinea, as a result of devastating effects of climate change. This includes literal inundation of their six islands, erosion, the loss of their wells from saltwater incursion, destruction of their gardens and other problems. The plight of the Carteret people, among the world's first climate refugees, is documented in the short film Sun Come Up--which has been nominated for an Academy Award.
The Carteret Islands
The Carteret Islands are a group of six low-lying coral atolls. Experts expect they will be uninhabitable by 2015, and conditions have deteriorated so much that a large-scale relocation of the native people is in progress. A number of challenges remain, however, including a lack of funds and the difficulty of integrating into a new place.
A Life By the Sea
According to filmmaker Jennifer Redfearn, many of the Carteret elders are loathe to leave their homeland and culture behind, although many of the young people are focusing on new opportunity.
Traditionally, the Carterets have made their living by fishing the seas and growing root vegetables and other staples. Their islands have no roads or airstrips and only limited electricity, from a generator. They live in huts built from local wood with sand floors. They also have a rich heritage of song and dance.
Downed Coconut Palms
Storms and unusually high tides have wrecked havoc on the Carterets, uprooting coconut palms, inundating wells and destroying gardens. It only takes about 15 minutes now to walk across the largest of the six islands.
Most of the Carterets are moving to Bougainville, which is 50 miles away. They will likely have to join a more typical cash economy, and many are afraid they will lose some of their culture and unique identity. There is also concern that there could be tension with host communities, so the Carteret people have been trying to reach out.
Sun Come Up
"Ultimately, I hope the film will be a hopeful story," says Jennifer Redfearn. "They're taking matters into their own hands. It's a tragedy, but it's also hopeful. On the tour with them there were really sad moments, and moments that were really fun, with dancing and joking."