UNSG’s Climate Summit
Tuesday 23 September, 2014
The Secretary-General Mr Ban ki-moon
Ladies and gentlemen
It is indeed an honour for me to extend to you all today very warm greetings from the Government and the people of Kiribati- on whose behalf I address this august meeting. Kam na bane ni Mauri and Greetings to you all!
I wish to begin by expressing my deep appreciation to you Mr. Secretary-General, for providing us this opportunity once again to seek a clear path in our struggle to come to terms with the full implications of the challenges posed by climate change to all of humanity. But whilst the scale, the severity and the urgency of the challenges will vary from country to country, from people to people the reality remains that the only effective remedy if any will require collective global commitment and above all action.
I believe that as a global community we have achieved considerable progress on the climate change debate since our meeting at Copenhagen in 2009. Much has happened in our erratic and unusual global weather patterns, which together with the most recent AR5 IPCC and other corroborating scientific reports to clearly indicate that, as sensible people we need to start taking the right measures to prepare ourselves for what is to come. We have all made our individual contributions to the literature on the climate change debate in our eloquent speeches which we have delivered here in New York and elsewhere over the years.
Excellencies the question now is “where do we go from here?” In fact during the SIDS Conference in Samoa and since, many have asked (mainly journalists) what is it that I expect to come out of this Summit or Paris in 2015? My answer is simple – ACTION ; action that would guarantee that the future of our people can be secured.
Climate change- remains the biggest threat
Ladies and gentlemen, I have just come back from an Artic Expedition and words could never fully explain the immensity of the system in the Arctic region or the full implications of the melting of the massive sheets of ice in the Arctic region. One could not fail to make the direct connection between the melting of such a massive amount of ice and the fate of our low lying atoll islands on the equator and indeed all coastal cities. The visit also brought home to me the global nature of the processes involved in climate change and the impossibility of reversing it once it has gone so far.
Need for Sacrifice and Partnership
Excellencies against the foregoing and the background of past statements which I shall not repeat here I believe that there is need for genuine commitment and sacrifice if the challenge of climate change is to be addressed.
In this vein we as an ocean state, have made a small contribution towards the preservation of one of the greatest natural endowments – the Pacific Ocean. The establishment of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), the second largest MPA in the world which complements the Pacific Oceanscape, an initiative which encompasses other small island nations’ marine protected areas. PIPA and the Pacific Oceanscape is our Pacific contribution and with it a statement to the global community that sacrifices can indeed be made.
Excellencies earlier this year, my country together with fellow low-lying atoll island states of Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Maldives and Tokelau – established the Coalition of Atoll Nations On Climate Change (CANCC –can see). The CANCC was not only a partnership between Climate Change frontline states, but it also forged partnership with our more developed allies. A partnership underscoring the concerns we jointly share over the slow pace of global action to address the increasing urgency and severity of the challenges we are already facing from climate change. A deep concern that for us time is fast running out.
Call for greater global leadership and commitment
The outcomes from the SIDS in Samoa, is indeed very encouraging in the commitment to establish a stand-alone goal on climate change as part of the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. However this commitment together with the leadership demonstrated by the Secretary General on this issue must be matched by our political leadership in particular by those whose participation or otherwise would mean success or failure to the process.
I have no doubt that we all agree that climate change poses a danger to all of us if in varying degrees. The science forthcoming from the IPCC AR5 and elsewhere together with our individual experiences in our own countries provide ample evidence that something is terribly wrong. Yet we continue to procrastinate, we continue to ignore what the science is telling us and indeed what we are witnessing with our own eyes. We know that in order for us to make meaningful progress in addressing the challenge of climate change there is a need for strong and decisive global leadership – so we must get away from the wait to see who is doing what style of leadership before deciding to do what needs to be done.
For the sake of our children and their children let us do the right thing soon!
With these few words allow me to share with you all our traditional Kiribati blessing of Te Mauri, Te Raoi ao Te Tabomoa, (Health, Peace and Prosperity) to you all.