On November 8, 2021, we hosted a panel on Climate Relocation and Human Rights with the Young Pacific Leaders Network and the US Consulate in New Zealand. The event brought together collaborators on the Right to Life with Dignity Climate Justice project and Robin Bronen, a human rights lawyer working with Alaskan Native communities. We had over 75 people in attendance, and the recording is here for all who missed the event:
The panelists brought together storytelling, policy reform, research, and grassroots advocacy to explore the importance of human rights in climate relocation and displacement. Rae, Charles, and Chrisanthy are collaborators on the Right to Life with Dignity project. Read more about each of the panelists below:
Itinterunga Rae Bainteiti
Rae’s work as a climate activist and youth champion ranges from his environmental social justice work and extensive background in Local Government and NGOs, to more than nine years of work with the Kiribati Climate Action Network. Rae is also the co-founder of several youth organizations, including Kiribati Citizens Against Corruption and the Kiribati National Youth Association of NGOs. He is a Board member of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network – PICAN and Pacific youth focal point on Global Compact on Migration, and the Pacific Youth Council; a member of the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security programme, and Council of Elders at the Pacific Climate Warriors. Rae now runs his own consultancy firm supporting the Kiribati and Banaban CSOs focused on good governance and social work, and he continues to work closely with communities and youth to create awareness and inspire change.
“In order to truly understand the future of climate displacement, we have to learn from those who have already been displaced.” – Rae Bainteiti
Robin is a human rights attorney, who works with communities forced to relocate because of climate change, and the co-founder of the Alaska Institute for Justice, an NGO that focuses on climate and social justice issues. Her research has been published by media outlets including CNN, The HuffPost, and The Guardian. Bronen is also a senior research scientist at the University of Alaska’s Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology. Bronen can speak about the displacement of indigenous and marginalized populations due to climate change. She has worked with islands in the South Pacific, including in Fiji and the Solomon Islands, focusing on climate-forced displacement.
Chrisanthy is the Vice President of the Tuvalu National Youth Council and a senior litigator and administrator practicing in private firm and consultancy. Her work includes environmental law as an approach to contribute to the development of community circumstances in Tuvalu. Involved also in other NGO’S, Chrisanthy finds inspiration from her children to fight for climate justice, promote the advancement of values and the protection of traditional knowledge. Thus, it must be acknowledged that we now live in the period of youth to achieve the peaceful and secured future we yearn for.
“They do not listen. They keep emitting as if we, in Tuvalu, don’t have a right to live.” – Chrisanthy Baniani
Born and raised in Samoa and of mixed Samoan, German, and NZ heritage, Charles is a lawyer by profession and a human rights advocate. He holds an LLB from Victoria University Wellington and Masters in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex in Colchester UK. His Master’s dissertation focused on climate citizens in the Pacific and State responsibility in providing assistance. Charles is currently working for the Samoa Office of the Ombudsman National Human Rights Institution as a Legal & Investigations Officer.