Kiribati ex-parliamentarian says Pacific island region needs long-term solutions to mitigate impact

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

Pacific island nations need to establish a strong coordination among institutions to up the effectiveness of interventions aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change, according to Tebuai Uaai, former speaker of the Kiribati Parliament.

“Scientists have cranked up the alarm for nations to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions and work toward mitigating impacts from the climate crisis,” Uaai said at the Nov. 28 webinar organized by the Heavenly Culture World Peace and Restoration of Light (HWPL).

“A dozen countries including Fiji, Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia are identified as particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters,” Uuai said.

In Kiribati, he added, the sea continues to rise, threatening to submerge the island nation's coastal areas and flooding some homes throughout the year.

"In the Solomon Islands, coastal erosion has been severe, stripping away at coconut plantations and even graveyards,” Uaai said.

The former parliamentarian noted that world leaders, institutions and philanthropists have pledged billions of dollars in new funding to help countries cope with the effects of climate change. However, he added, researchers say it is far from enough “What the islands need in addition to adaptation assistance are strong commitments and real action,” Uaai said.

He urged Pacific island nations to shift their strategies to more permanent solutions. "A 'business as usual' approach to managing risks — one that focuses more on disaster relief than on long-term disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation — will result in increased economic and human losses from extreme events," Uaai said.

"It will also slow economic growth and delay or even set back progress toward Millennium Development Goals, and the poor and marginalized will suffer the most," he added.

The HWPL webinar was themed “HWPL Shaping 2020s Peace Citizens: Global Leaders for the Peace Era,” with around 50 participants including political leaders, religious representatives, youth, women, and journalists from eight countries, including Korea, USA, Canada, and Pacific Island countries including Fiji, Micronesia, and Papua New Guinea, participated in the webinar. Participants discussed the role of global peace citizens, and climate change and peacebuilding that have emerged as an important security issue to the Pacific Island countries. “Many Pacific island countries are appealing for border issues because climate change may cause the country to disappear,” said Aneet Kumar, a member of the International Youth Peace Group and a USP Students’ Association Administration and Research Officer from Fiji. “Leaders should not only try to solve this problem with political or religious thoughts, but with humanity. In addition, there is a need for a platform to voice the concerns and opinions of youth toward this issue.”

Rickson Jordan Bau, press and public affairs officer of British High Commission of Solomon Islands and Nauru stated, “Since the people of Solomon Islands always live with the threat of climate change, having peace in Solomon Islands cannot be considered apart from climate change. Therefore, I hope that HWPL's peace activities will be known to more and more people and be localized.”

“The fundamental cause of conflict in this era, and the future generation, is not primarily economic, but it will be non-state base and cultural instead. This fact gives us a lesson that only state or world leaders are not the key to disputes, but we, ourselves should equip the mindset as well as competence of global leader, and also, we should make together and cooperate with accountable international organizations,” Rev. Swami Chidghan Anand Parivrajak, head priest of Shiv Dham Temple from Florida added about the role of global peace citizens. “When we say conflict, we mainly think of armed conflicts. Also, we usually think the country would be peaceful without such a war. However, most of the South Pacific island countries have no war, but violence and conflicts occur frequently within family in their homes. And the number of them is high enough worldwide,” said Susana Tuisawau, executive director of Pacific Foundation for the Advancement of Women. Ven. Hyewon, representative of Korea for the World Buddhist Summit, said, “In the midst of all this hardship, meetings like this one where we coming together online to continue peace work, sets an example for all.”

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