Submitted by leannem on Sat, 12/14/2019 - 02:10
Kiribati side event
December 14, 2019 by leannem
Climate Change Resilience

12 December 2019, Madrid, Spain – The Pacific island atoll nation of Kiribati is one of the most vulnerable in the world to the impacts of a changing climate. As temperatures of the world continue to increase, sea-levels continue to rise, threatening to submerge entire coral atoll islands.

Despite this, the people of Kiribati continue to acknowledge the importance of the ocean to their culture and identity and are working to address their issues, better manage this vital resource with which they have been gifted, as well as strive for more sustainable and resilient development..

These challenges and successes in their pursuit of a blue and resilient atoll nation, were highlighted on the tenth day of the Twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention (UNFCCC COP25), the world’s biggest climate change conference, currently being held in Madrid, Spain. 

His Excellency Taneti Maamau, President of Kiribati said, “The ocean benefits the people and the economy in various ways. It is also part of our identity as coastal people, as navigators, and as people of the land and sea.”

“To put into perspective the importance of the ocean, the ocean benefits the people and the economy of Kiribati. Our ocean is among the world’s largest tuna fishing ground. It contributed 20% of the global world demand in 2010-2014. The ocean also provides a major source of income for both individuals and the economy.”

The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Dame Meg Taylor, spoke on the Blue Pacific narrative and what it means to the people of the Pacific, as well as on the importance of maritime boundaries to protect the ocean territories of these Pacific islands.

“The narrative of the Blue Pacific is about identity, as articulated by the Tongan poet Epeli Hau’ofa, that we are not alone, we are a sea of islands, and the people are the ocean,” she said. 

“I think the aspect of the Blue Pacific that is very important now with climate change is really around maritime boundaries. You can have a narrative of the Blue Pacific, but what does it mean when you have 42 million square kilometres that is not empty?”

“People tend to think that it is a vast blue ocean that’s empty, but it’s not. It is the territory and the sovereign rights of the nations of the Pacific. So, the work that’s been done now helps to ensure the world is aware of the work that’s been done in the region to have these boundaries determined and submitted to the United Nations,” she added. 

The Deputy Director of the Pacific Community (SPC), Mr Cameron Diver acknowledged that in order to address the vulnerabilities of atoll nations, it depends on what everybody else who is not an atoll nation does, in particular, large continental high-emitting states. 

“Mitigation actions in the Pacific islands, which counts for less than 0.03% of global emissions, is not what is going to secure the Kiribati. It is mitigation actions in the big countries that will then support and enhance the adaptation actions that we need to take.”

“That’s not to say that we shouldn’t mitigate in the Pacific because the Pacific has led on ambition, but we must be clear that everything the region does is dependent on a massive global push to support that because all the threats are existential when you’re an atoll nation,” Mr Diver added. 

He stated that SPC, as well as PIFS and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, have been doing good work in Kiribati in ensuring there is sustainable and resilient development in the face of climate change. 

“All of this, as I’ve said, is dependent on everybody else making the efforts and mitigation required so that these adaptation methods become genuinely sustainable, and that we can keep island peoples living long, healthy and productive lives in their islands for as long as possible, and from the Blue Pacific point of view, that should be infinitely. 

”A Blue and Resilient Atoll Nation” side event was held on 12 December 2019 at the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion. 

For more information on the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion, please visit www.pacific-pavilion.com or download the Attendify app, search for “Moana Blue Pacific’’, create your profile and join. 

The UNFCCC COP25 is being held from 2 – 13 December 2019 in Madrid, Spain.