May 19, 2015

‘Nowhere to move’: Marshall Islands adapts amid climate change threat

Majuro, Majuro Atoll
RMI
by
Renee Lewis
,
Al Jazeera
An improvised sea wall at the edge of Majuro Atoll pictured on April 14, 2015. It is the most vulnerable part of the atoll, and residents there have experienced increasingly frequent flooding. Photo: Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera
An improvised sea wall at the edge of Majuro Atoll pictured on April 14, 2015. It is the most vulnerable part of the atoll, and residents there have experienced increasingly frequent flooding. Photo: Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera

“Most countries that are elevated have the option of a managed retreat, but not here — our front line is our last line of defense,” said Ywao Elanzo, acting director of the Majuro-based Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC), which oversees funding for climate change adaptation projects.

Rising sea levels pose an existential threat to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, a chain of 29 atolls and several islands that stand on average barely 6 feet above sea level. And while nothing can save many of the country’s islands if the oceans continue their rise, the residents of the Marshall Islands are racing to adapt, fighting to survive as long as they can in one of the world’s most isolated places