12 December 2019, Madrid, Spain – The Republic of the Marshall Islands, the smallest ever country to secure a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, will use that platform to fight for climate and nuclear justice.
The Marshall Islands, one of the most vulnerable countries on Planet Earth, was represented during the High Level Segment of the Twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change underway in Madrid, Spain.
H.E Ambassador Doreen deBrum, Marshall Islands Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva, presented on behalf of the island nation and highlighted the role her father played, the late Hon Tony deBrum who was a key architect, four years ago in Paris, in creating hope that we would be given a pathway to survival.
“That is why the Marshall Islands enhanced its own Nationally Determined Contribution last year and set a concrete plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050,” stated Ambassador deBrum.
“And while we welcome those that have said they will live up to their promises and enhance their ambition, the big message out of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit was that more countries must now follow in our footsteps – especially the big emitters.”
The Marshall Islands outlined other opportunities to demonstrate that the world is one step closer to providing the pathway it was promised. Over the past months, the Marshall Islands has been on the receiving end of many challenges, impacting upon the everyday lives of Marshallese communities, highlighting the importance of the outcomes from COP25 for the island nation.
“This means walking away with outcomes on Article 6 and common timeframes that promote environmental integrity and ambition, and boost efforts under the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage to address the worst and irreversible impacts,” said Ambassador deBrum.
“If there has been one clear message from Mother Nature this past year, it has been that we are on the edge of the precipice. In our country we experienced 16-foot swells that displaced our community members on top of a month-long dengue fever outbreak that has pushed our health system to its limits.”
“We must do more than simply offer our thoughts and prayers. That is why we must now follow through with concrete action to increase ambition.”
Prior to the COP25, over 200 people had to flee their homes after being inundated by freak waves in Majuro, Marshall Islands. Swells averaging 16 feet washed debris and rocks onto roads temporarily blocking access to the international airport. Several evacuation centers had to be established for those in need.
Ambassador deBrum ended her statement with a moment of silence to remember the late Steve Sawyer, former Director of Greenpeace International. He led the evacuation of the people of Rongelap who suffered from severe radiation sickness due to the fallout from the US nuclear testing in Marshall Islands and was one of the “world’s most dedicated champions in the fight to address the climate crisis.”
The Republic of the Marshall Islands were featured during day two of the High Level Segment of the UNFCCC COP25 in Madrid, Spain. COP25 is held from 2 to 13 December, 2019. The High Level Segment – National Statements were held from 10 to 11 December, 2019.