The challenges of climate change adaptation for displaced communities : the Bikini community on Kili and Ejit Islands : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of International Development, School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University

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The displaced Bikini community on Kili and Ejit Islands are facing significant threats from sea level rise. This effect of climate change is just the latest devastation to face this community. In 1946, the Bikinians were coerced into leaving their homes on Bikini Atoll to allow the United States to conduct nuclear tests. Their forced relocation has led to the community suffering long term impacts associated with displacement as they are still unable to return home. The vulnerabilities faced by the Bikinians due to displacement are intensifying the Bikinians’ exposure and sensitivity to climate change. However, the Bikinians are not passive victims of displacement or climate change and have shown high levels of resilience to the disruptive impacts of these processes. The strategies first developed in response to their displacement must now consider climate change. Conversely, for their adaptation to climate change to be successful, these strategies must address the impacts of displacement as the underlying cause of Bikinian vulnerability. The threats of climate change for the community on Kili and Ejit are considerable. Despite having developed strategies to respond to the vulnerabilities they face, climate change will continue to make life on Kili and Ejit Islands difficult because of the underlying social, cultural, economic and environmental characteristics. There may be limits to the Bikinians’ ability to adapt and remain resilient. The Bikinians, already forced from their homes, have been highly mobile with most of their population residing on other islands within the Marshall Islands or in the United States. Climate change may force yet more Bikinians to consider migration as a form of adaptation. This study explores how the vulnerabilities the Bikinians endure because of their displacement contribute to vulnerabilities associated with climate change. This study analyses these issues and focuses on how Bikinians adapt and build resilience. In seeking to share the story of the Bikinians this study draws on bwebwenato (talk story) research methods with members of the Bikinian leadership, and an analysis of documents detailing their struggle for justice against their displacement, and their experience with climate change.