Published: Tuesday, 17 March 2015 16:02

CYCLONE PAM AND THE PACIFIC

Kiribati president: 'time to act' on climate change

Anote Tong, president of Kiribati, is at the UN disaster risk conference in Sendai, Japan, and has been speaking about the effects of Cyclone Pam on his country.

'Cyclone Pam struck the Pacific ... with Vanuatu bearing the full savagery of Pam, with effects also experienced in the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and of course in my country, in Kiribati ...

We have heard that precious lives have been lost and a great deal of damage was done to infrastructure: homes, food sources, drinking water and communication and transport devastated.

Because of the scattered nature of the small islands that make up the Pacific island communities, it is not always easy to know full well the extent of the damage ... It will take a few days to provide much needed help because no one knows what the situation is in these remote island communities.

It is sad but it is the most vulnerable who have been affected the most and we cannot help them when they need us most.'

He extended his condolences to the president of Vanuatu, who is returning home from Japan today.

It is time to act ... Let us match the rhetoric of these international gatherings with pledges and commitments as leaders to do our best to improve conditions and lives of those who need it most.

For leaders of low-lying island atolls, the hazards of global warming affect our people in different ways, and it is a catastrophe that impinges on our rights ... and our survival into the future.

There will be a time when the waters will not recede.
Climate change has exacerbated the severity of natural disasters and frequency, that is worsening the impact on different communities in different parts of the world.
I argue ... that climate change and disasters are so integrated and so related.