Pacific countries have contributed the least to the climate crisis and are now suffering the most.

This is how Germany's Federal Foreign Minister Ms Annalena Baerbock described her visit to Togoru Settlement in Navua where she witnessed the devastating effects of climate change on its shorelines.

The Minister who was on her way to Nadi, made a stopover at Togoru and was met by Ms Lavenia McGoon, a long time resident who related their story to her.

“Over the years our small community of Togoru has explored ways or means to try and control the loss of our shoreline,” said Ms. McGoon.

“Mangroves were planted, and a seawall made of coral was erected along our beachfront, but all did not work. The sea itself made short work of our seawall.”

“A major contributing factor was the strong tidal waves coming in from the east and through the Togoru passage off Beqa island,” adds Ms. McGoon.

The Federal Minister was taken to the site of the eroded tombs, which now stand as memorials in the sea. There, she was given a brief rundown on the challenges the Togoru settlement has faced over the years.

“This is a blatant injustice that we can no longer change retroactively,” said the Minister.

“We must take all necessary steps to ensure that no more villages are submerged in the sea and work towards achieving the well-known 1.5-degree path. This will prevent Pacific island states from disappearing into the sea in the future."

Minister Baerbock expressed her admiration for the resilience and determination of the residents of Togoru, despite the challenges they face. She acknowledged the difficulties of families who have lost loved ones in the cemetery that was flooded by the sea, washing away not just the graveyards but also the remains of their loved ones.

“It is truly a heartbreaking situation for the families who have to face such losses and hard to imagine what this means for families who have buried their loved ones in a cemetery that has found itself in the sea at some point in the last few years,” said Minister Baerbock.

“But we can do everything we can to ensure that no more villages or settlement sink into the sea and that we finally get on the well-known 1.5-degree path, which will at least prevent all Pacific island states from disappearing into the sea at some point.”

“This is the responsibility of industrialised countries, particularly, the major economies of our time and it is a blatant injustice that we can no longer change retroactively because the G20 countries, the strongest economies of our time, are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions.”

The Federal Minister further stated that she will work towards addressing the climate crisis collaboratively and looks forward to joining hands with small island developing states to provide maximum support to the most vulnerable countries, especially those in the Indo-Pacific region, in the future.

“It is a process in which we cannot remain silent.”
It is noteworthy that a displacement of 200 meters in a horizontal direction is quite significant.

However, Togoru is located in the floodplain of the Navua River, which is an area that is characterised by low-lying flat terrain and an extensive mudflat that lies offshore.

As a result, even a minor change in sea level can cause a considerable change on its shoreline.