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International perceptions of the Pacific Island nation of Nauru are dominated by two interrelated stories. Until the turn of the century, it was the dramatic boom and bust of Nauru's phosphate mine, and the mismanagement of its considerable wealth, that captured global attention.
Then, in 2001, Nauru become one of two Pacific sites for Australia's offshore incarceration of asylum seekers and refugees. As money from the extraction of phosphate began to wane, Nauru became increasingly reliant on the income generated through the detention industry.
Story - Island - Future - Everyone - Nauru
There is a third story that is often overlooked, one that will heavily determine the island's future. Everyone on Nauru – Indigenous Nauruans and refugees alike – is experiencing the impacts of one the greatest social, economic and political threats faced by the world today: global environmental change.
I visited Nauru earlier this month as part of my project Climates of Listening, which amplifies Pacific calls for climate and environmental justice. I spoke with public servants, community leaders, and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) about their climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. I wanted to document the changes to the island's reefs, lagoons and landscape, and also the community initiatives to cope with these changes.
Nauru - Germany - Island - Reserves - Phosphate
Nauru was first colonised in the late 1800s by Germany, which aimed to exploit the island's plentiful reserves of phosphate, a prized ingredient of fertiliser and munitions. In the early 1900s Britain brokered a deal with the German government and the Pacific Phosphate Company to begin large-scale mining, which became crucial for Australia and New Zealand, who were building up agricultural and military capacity.
After the first world war, Australia, Britain and New Zealand took over full trusteeship of the island, which served as a strategic military site and was successively occupied, costing many Indigenous lives. It was not until the late 1960s that Nauru finally regained...
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