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Torres Strait climate change centre could put First Nations people in charge of nationwide mitigation efforts

Joseph Guenzler -

A climate change beacon of hope will be established in Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait Islands) which could one day see First Nations people lead mitigation efforts across the nation.

The Federal Government announced in its October budget it would provide $15.9 million over four years to design and deliver adaptation and mitigation action against climate change, including establishing the Torres Strait Climate Centre of Excellence.

Torres Strait Regional Authority chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen said the centre would address the "very serious" issue of climate change facing the region.

"This is a momentous point in time for the Torres Strait bringing together all the past and present advocacy and aspirations from the region's leaders and traditional owners," he said.

"We will continue to work in partnership with the leaders and traditional owners to

co-design the Torres Strait Climate Centre of Excellence, and work collaboratively to address the very serious issues we are facing across our region."

The establishment of the Centre of Excellence will be First Nations led with on-ground traditional knowledge embedded in the design and establishment of the centre.

It will provide a new model for the fight against climate change in Zenadth Kes which could be replicated across the nation.

In June 2022, at the ministerial Torres Strait Round Table on Climate Change, Traditional Owners made it clear to Federal Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen and assistant minister Jenny McAllister climate change was one of the greatest threats to Zenadth Kes people, culture, economy, livelihoods, food, water and energy security.

Zenadth Kes is dealing with the adverse effects of climate change right now.

Communities are experiencing rising sea levels at approximately three times the rate of the global average, resulting in more frequent and severe inundation flooding events, and accelerated coastal erosion.

The Federal Government in September was found by the United Nations to be violating the human rights of Zenadth Kes residents by failing to act on climate change.

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