Home to some 11,000 inhabitants, Tuvalu consists of three islands and six low-lying atolls scattered across the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With a total land area of only about 26 square kilometers, it is the fourth-smallest country in the world. The nation’s highest point above sea level is around four meters, while on average it is less than two meters above sea level.
During thousands of years, Tuvaluans have developed many strategies to cope with climate threats. Today, however, the country is faced with unprecedented existential security-related risks created by human-induced climate change. According to IPCC 1.5°C Special Report for Policy Makers, rising sea levels and more frequent and intense climate-related disasters threaten to sink the nation in 30 to 50 years, forcing Tuvaluans to leave their home country.
In May 2019, during his visit to the South Pacific, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recognized Tuvalu as “the extreme front line of the global climate emergency” and emphasized that “climate change cannot be stopped in Tuvalu only — it has to be stopped in the rest of the world”. “Saving Tuvalu is a global mission for us all. It’s a global duty. We need urgent climate action to stop Tuvalu from sinking and the world from sinking with it.”