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President Tong bows out of Forum with ‘Star of Melanesia’

Tong_Thinking

President Anote Tong has bowed-out of the Pacific Islands Forum, in what is deemed his last forum meeting as President of tiny Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, with an honorary award called the ‘Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia’ (CSM) and $5 million PNG-Kina (AUD$2.5 million) to aid efforts in combating climate change impacts to his low-lying atoll nation.

President Tong who is now in his final months of his 12-year term in office received the honorary award – ‘Star of Melanesia’ last Thursday from Papua New Guinea’s Acting Governor General and Speaker of Parliament Theodore Zurenuoc. The high-level occasion was witnessed by leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum who were in Port Moresby for the 46th Leaders Forum.

The Companion of the Star of Melanesia is awarded for distinguished service of a high degree to Papua New Guinea and Melanesia, sustained over a period of fifteen years.

A statement from the PNG government say the award is bestowed on Tong for his services to the Pacific region and strong bilateral relations with the region and PNG.

Tong was humbled with such recognition saying he was truly honoured to receive such a symbolic award which he says inspires him further that the Pacific is in good stewardship as long as the spirit of brotherhood and the Pacific Way continue to prevail.

Although Kiribati is not a member of the Melanesian grouping, Tong has in the past been invited by the Melanesian Spearhead Group where his thoughts and contributions on contentious issues were consulted.

The president who returns today from the recently concluded 46th Pacific Islands forum meeting in Port Moresby brings with him a $5 million cheque (PNG-Kina) that will go towards Kiribati’s ongoing efforts to combat climate change impacts.

Tong will leave office early next year and will walk away with a number of awards and recognitions under his belt. This year alone, Tong was presented with the Doctor of Laws from the University of the South Pacific and the Sunhak Peace Prize.

The Premier of Niue, Toke Talagi, also received the Star of Melanesia award while Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, received the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL) in recognition of his long service to the region as one of the longest serving Prime Minister.

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Previous recipients of The Companion of the Star of Melanesia includes Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, KCVO, CB (Husband of the Princess Royal – The Princess Anne) and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall (Wife of Prince of Wales – Prince Charles).

People’s life in the Pacific is a big laughing joke: Australian Minister of Immigration and Prime Minister Tony Abbott

The Betio Maternity Ward in Kiribati's capital is under threat from the March 2015 spring tide

The Betio Maternity Ward on Tarawa atoll – Kiribati’s capital is under threat from the March 2015 spring tide

While climate change is an issue that concerns the life and very existence of people in the Pacific Island nations, it is somehow a big laughing joke according to Australian Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Climate Change was a top agenda for Pacific Island leaders at the recently concluded 46th Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea where Abbott also joined.

The agenda, as anticipated, was greatly watered down by the Pacific’s very own ‘bigger brothers’ Australia and New Zealand resulting in a failure for the Pacific grouping to reach a strong and unified declaration to take to Paris.

And in only less than 24 hours after the forum, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott upon returning to Canberra, laughed recklessly at a joke made by his fellow Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the plight of Pacific Island people on climate change.

Ironically and oblivious to it, a camera with a boom microphone had captured the whole conversation which included the insensitive joke – which in essence, is a big slap to the faces of Pacific Island leaders who passionately pleaded for a declaration that will help save their people from the impacts of climate change at the recent forum meeting.

Watch video here: PM Abbott laughing recklessly at a joke made by fellow Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the plight of Pacific Islanders on climate change

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Betio_Maternity_Ward_RIMAGES

The Betio Hospital was hit hard during the March 2015 Spring Tide causing it to be temporarily relocated to the Betio Sports Complex. The hospital has since resumed normal operations after the coastal area was fortified by slabs of concrete sea-walls

Climate Website Island Reports

Island Reports

Want to know more about a particular island?Nikunau Island report cover image

If so,  you’re in luck because the Office of The President recently completed the official 2012 Island Reports for Kiribati – and they’re available online.

The reports feature everything from general and geographic information to the current impacts and effects of climate change.

Gilbert Island Chain (North)

Makin
Butaritari
Marakei
Abaiang
Tarawa – North
Tarawa – South

Gilbert Island Chain (Central)
Maiana
Abemama
Kuria
Aranuka
Nonouti

Gilbert Island Chain (South)
Tabiteuea – North
Tabiteuea – South
Beru
Nikunau
Onotoa
Tamana
Arorae

Banaba Island

Line Islands

Kiritimati
Tabuaeran
Teeraina

Phoenix Islands

None available

Office of The President staff photo, 2012. Photo: OB

Office of The President

The Office of Te Beretitenti (OB) stands in support of the Beretitenti (President) and Cabinet in delivering their vision for the people of Kiribati.  The OB has a more flexible portfolio than other Ministries, and can assist the President and Cabinet as required.  As well as providing secretariat and protocol support to the President and Cabinet, the OB has responsibilities for ministerial co-ordination and cross-Ministry functions including communications, disaster risk management, climate change policy and population policy.

In the most recent election, the public of Kiribati voted for change and this Government is committed to delivering an ambitious program of changes and improvements across many areas.

The Government is committed to increasing openness and transparency and to ensuring that the public is reliably informed and made aware of all Government activities, programs and projects.  This includes disclosure and publication of data and information that will help the public to hold Government accountable for its decisions and for the use of public funds.

Climate change poses many serious threats to our future as a nation.  Kiribati has a strong international profile but the challenge now is to take this forward locally.  On the related issue of disaster risks, Kiribati needs to be better prepared, with broad understanding from the public and strong backup from all Ministries.

Visit the Office of The President’s official website

 

President Anote Tong helps plant mangroves in a KAPII initiative to protect our coastlines.

Kiribati Adaptation Program (KAP)

The Kiribati Adaptation Program (KAP) aims to reduce Kiribati’s vulnerability to climate change, climate variability and sea level rise by raising awareness of climate change, assessing and protecting available water resources and managing inundation.

President Anote Tong helps plant mangroves in a KAPII initiative to protect our coastlines.

President Anote Tong helps plant mangroves in a KAPII initiative to protect our coastlines.

KAP is a project of the Office of the President, Government of Kiribati and consists of three phases, running from 2003 to 2016:

Phase I: Preparation (2003-2005)
Phase II : Pilot implementation (2006-2011)
Phase III: Expansion (2012-2016)

Initiatives include improving water supply management; coastal management protection measures such as mangrove re-plantation and protection of public infrastructure; strengthening laws to reduce coastal erosion; and population settlement planning to reduce personal risks.

KAP is financed through grants via the World Bank from Government of Australia; the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF); Japan Policy and Human Resources Development (PHRD); Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR); and in-kind contribution from the Government of Kiribati.

Latest news for KAPIII