2013 - Volume 16 Number 5
The coral atolls and other low-lying islands that dot the Pacific Ocean are just a few meters above sea-level. These islands will experience a higher sea level rise than other parts of the world and Pacific peoples are already exposed to the adverse effects of climate change, something that is not of their own doing. Pacific Island nations cannot afford to wait any longer; that is a luxury belonging to developed nations. They are compelled to attend to their very survival.
The plight of Pacific peoples was given a strong shake-up on the fifth of September this year by Pacific Island Leaders gathered at the 45th Pacific Islands Forum representing fourteen South Pacific Islands spread throughout a vast area of 3.5 million square kilometres of ocean: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
In Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands, Forum members, together with Australia and New Zealand, signed the “Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership.” The significance of the document lies precisely in the firm political leadership of the Pacific Islands. Now, stepping up to even greater leadership, they “commit to being Climate Leaders.” Because “to lead is to act” they make a compelling case for others to follow their lead.
Tired of waiting for others to “go first,” the Pacific’s plucky new approach recognises that developed countries have other agendas, but at the same time “if the Pacific Islands disappear… it will be too late for everyone else.” This echoes the assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.