Patrick Dodson to lead important Australian delegation to Kiribati

The Edmund Rice Centre in conjunction with the Pacific Calling Partnership next week will be taking a delegation of Australian community leaders to Kiribati. The delegation will be led by one of the most senior Indigenous leaders in Australia Patrick Dodson and ERC director Phil Glendenning, and will include representatives from Indigenous communities, the arts, media and education.

“It is a powerful irony that the call from the people of the Pacific for support for their efforts in combating the impact of climate change has been heard by senior Indigenous leaders, like Patrick Dodson.” Mr Glendenning said

This stands in stark contrast to the neglect the issue received in the recent Federal election, when the impact of our greenhouse gas emissions on people in low-lying island communities - like Kiribati and indigenous Australian communities in the Torres Strait - was not even mentioned.” Mr Glendenning added. 

The visit to Kiribati will include meetings with Kiribati' President, Anote Tong, education and health officials, community leaders, church groups and other groups from across the Gilbert and Ellis Islands. The delegation will spend a morning working side by side with local people in the planting of mangroves. 

“The people of Kiribati have always been strong and resilient in dealing with the difficulties that nature has provided for them,” Mr Glendenning said. “Climate change, to which they have made no contribution, is another matter entirely, and requires effective international support. This visit will reinforce our capacity to work side by side with the low-lying island nations in effectively communicating their situation at the UN Climate Change summit in Cancun, Mexico in December this year.”

“The people of Kiribati have shown over the years that they possess the skills and knowledge to live sustainable lives in harmony with their environment which is of course 98% ocean. What they are yet to achieve with regard to climate change is for the world to take them and their needs seriously, and to stop polluting the atmosphere,” Mr Glendenning said. 

“Unlike what we have just witnessed in the Federal election, this will require serious efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions in places like Australia that have caused the problem in the first place.”

“It is not enough for the rest of the world, simply to watch and allow Kiribati to deal with a problem they did not create.”

“Australia has strong ties with Kiribati and other Pacific Island nations threatened by climate change, including our traditional aid program,” Mr Glendenning said. “However little has been done within this relationship to take into account the new challenges posed to these communities by climate change, especially given the fact that the carbon emissions of Australia's consumption have contributed greatly to the imposition of this crisis upon these low-consuming, small island nations.” 

“There is an important truth to be told here,” Mr Glendenning concluded. “The aim of this exercise is for the Australian community to pick up from where our politicians have dropped the ball.” 

Photo-call & on-departure interviews at Sydney Airport (International): Monday 30th Aug 2010, 11am

For interview/comment contact Phil Glendenning 0419 013 758 or Sean Cleary 0403 434 512

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