8:03 min
Director: Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
Producer: Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger

Winner of the JURY AWARD


THE NEXT WAVE presents the human face of climate change and a people faced with the loss of a land in which their identity is rooted. It is a portrait of a community and a critical moment in history.

Human rights organizations predict that climate change could displace up to 250 million people by mid-century. The Carteret islanders - a matrilineal society living on a chain of low-lying islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea - will be some of the first people to evacuate their ancestral land as a result of human-induced climate change.

The islanders inhabit some of the most remote and beautiful islands in the South Pacific. Sharing a rich tradition of music, dance and storytelling, the community has lived simply by the sea without cars, electricity, or running water. Their carbon footprint leaves one of the lightest impressions on the planet.

Now, a modern crisis has intruded upon them. Climate change is destroying this far-flung island chain. During the high tide season, the ocean floods the islands. Salt water destroys their crops and fresh water wells, and once pristine beaches are littered with fallen coconut trees, their roots devoured by salt.

The Carteret islanders face two urgent and potentially life threatening problems: access to food and fresh water is decreasing rapidly, and one strong high tide season could devastate the islands.

The islanders plan to move to Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea that is recovering from a 10-year civil war. Though it is much calmer now, many Bougainvilleans remain traumatized by the “Crisis,” as it’s called there. Substance abuse and violence are persistent problems. Leaving behind a peaceful existence on a remote atoll, the Carteret islanders must adapt to a community suffering the aftershock of war.

In an effort to smooth the way for this change, relocation leader Ursula Rakova brought together young people from the Carteret islands and from Bougainville. Together, they traveled around the mainland, talking to villagers about climate change and explaining the need for the islanders to relocate.

THE NEXT WAVE was made with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and is a short version of a longer film about the Carteret Islands and climate change. Follow the progress at


environment, international, Media That Matters 9,
Creative Commons License: Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivative Works


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