Foreign Relations & International Law

The Lawfare Podcast: The Marshall Islands’ Sweeping Climate Adaptation Plan with Jake Bittle

Tyler McBrien, Jake Bittle, Jen Patja
Friday, January 5, 2024, 8:00 AM
How is the Marshall Islands' climate plan revolutionary?

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Last month, at COP28 in Dubai, the Republic of the Marshall Islands unveiled its sweeping national climate adaptation plan, the multi-year product of government officials interviewing thousands of Marshallese residents across the country’s dozens of coral atolls. 

The plan is ambitious and groundbreaking because it has to be. As John Silk, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, said in September, “We call it our national adaptation plan, but it is really our survival plan.”

Lawfare Managing Editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Jake Bittle, a staff writer at Grist who covers climate impacts and adaptation and the author of a recent book about climate migration called “The Great Displacement,” about this very plan, which Jake obtained ahead of the annual climate conference. They discussed what makes this particular climate adaptation plan revolutionary, the thorny geopolitics of climate financing, and the unimaginable, unquantifiable loss that might occur should the worst case scenarios come to fruition for the Marshallese. But they also talked about why, despite its dire warnings and existential subject matter, the plan’s creators ultimately see it as an optimistic document.

Tyler McBrien is the managing editor of Lawfare. He previously worked as an editor with the Council on Foreign Relations and a Princeton in Africa Fellow with Equal Education in South Africa, and holds an MA in international relations from the University of Chicago.
Jake Bittle is a staff writer at Grist, where he covers climate impacts and adaptation.
Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.

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