Anote Tong: My country will be underwater soon -- unless we work together
Anote Tong - President of the Republic of Kiribati
Anote Tong has built worldwide awareness of the potentially devastating impacts of climate change. Full bio
by just telling us about your country.
Those dots are pretty huge.
is about the size of California.
by saying how deeply grateful I am
with people who do care.
a lot of people who don't care too much.
of three groups of islands:
is perhaps the only country
in the four corners of the world,
in the Southern Hemisphere,
of the International Date Line.
made up of coral atolls,
two meters above sea level.
than two kilometers in width.
I've been asked by people,
why don't you move back?"
of what it is that's involved.
"Well, you can move back."
on the other side of the ocean. OK?
that people don't understand.
just a picture of fragility there.
impending peril for your country?
has been one that has been going on
at the United Nations General Assembly,
this controversy among the scientists
whether it was real or it wasn't.
was fairly much concluded in 2007
Report of the IPCC,
that it is real, it's human-induced,
some very serious scenarios
the predictions came in 2007,
I think, that by 2100,
perhaps three feet.
it's higher than that, for sure,
to a skeptic who said,
six feet above sea level.
it's got to be understood
we are getting the swells at the moment.
that is happening in the future.
bottom end of the spectrum.
who already have been dislocated.
and every parliament session,
from different communities
about the freshwater lens
to the different islands,
with the loss of food crops,
perhaps leaving, having to relocate,
suffered its first cyclone,
What happened here?
that when you're on the equator,
We're not supposed to get the cyclones.
either north or south.
at the beginning of this year,
which destroyed Vanuatu,
the very edges of it actually touched
when Hurricane Pam struck.
from my own constituency,
which had been there for decades,
about the rising sea level,
that happens gradually.
it comes with the swells,
is the change in the weather pattern,
than perhaps the rising sea level.
is already seeing effects now.
as a country, as a nation?
this story every year.
to try and get people to understand.
I think I spoke in Geneva
who was interviewing me
at floating islands,"
but somebody said,
These people are looking for solutions."
at floating islands.
in building floating islands.
we have made a commitment
we will try as much as possible
something quite significant,
to continue to stay out of the water
and as the storms get more severe.
very, very difficult
that we would need.
is some form of forced migration.
that nothing comes forward
like what's happening in Europe.
at some point in time.
to give the people the choice today,
and want to do that, to migrate.
that they are forced to migrate
our society is very different,
into a different environment,
of adjustments that are required.
in your country's past,
or the day before yesterday,
I think somebody was asking
to visit that place.
a community of Kiribati people
of the Solomon Islands,
from the Phoenix Islands, in fact,
could not continue to live on the island,
to live here in the Solomon Islands.
to meet with these people.
They hadn't heard of me.
the opportunity to welcome me formally.
was very interesting
they spoke back, they replied,
not to be able to speak Kiribati properly.
this lady with red teeth.
the local people here,
there are bound to be changes.
a certain loss of identity,
looking for in the future
just an extraordinarily emotional day
an emphasized sense of what they had lost.
you're going to fight to the end
the nation in a location.
a very difficult decision for me.
to leave your island, your home,
on a number of occasions,
and I've tried to live with it,
of not trying to solve the problem
to be done collectively.
and as I've often argued,
when we come to the United Nations --
the Pacific Island Forum countries
are also members,
that to cut emissions,
that they're unable to do
to weigh this, these moral issues.
the survival of a people.
what made you angry,
But then you paused.
statement at the United Nations.
and then depressed.
that we have no hope of winning.
to somebody who was rational,
whatever that is.
of your nation's identity is fishing.
is involved in fishing in some way.
every day, every day,
that our rate of consumption of fish
both at the local level
that the country receives
you took a very radical step.
right here in the Phoenix Islands.
of what fish means for us.
tuna fisheries remaining in the world.
something like 60 percent
for some species, but not all.
major resource owners,
percent of our revenue
schools and what have you.
and it was a very difficult decision.
locally, it was not easy,
that the fishery remains sustainable.
that some of the species,
was under serious threat.
and so that was the reason I did that.
the international community
in order to fight climate change,
there has got to be commitment.
to make a sacrifice,
need to make that sacrifice.
what that loss would be
at the beginning of this year,
of the lost revenue.
playing into this.
it may prompt healthier fisheries.
to move the price up
have been very difficult,
to raise the cost of a vessel day.
to come in to fish for a day,
it was $6,000 and $8,000,
that significant increase.
what's important to note is,
and maybe catch 10 tons,
because they've become so efficient.
because the technology has so improved.
moved from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
if they could, per se.
and they've become so efficient.
of what it's like in those negotiations?
of dollars at stake, essentially.
with the same companies
the most for your country,
too often on licensing
from license fees
of the landed value of the catch
not in the retail shops.
to do over the years
our participation in the industry,
we have to become more involved.
that the world has changed.
for your local fishermen,
Are the waters depleted?
on a sustainable basis?
in the commercial fishing activity
entirely for the foreign market,
to be able to catch yellowfin
out of the water by the hundreds of tons
of beautiful girls from your country.
would you have for the world?
that we really have to do something
the future of these children.
about the same age as these young girls,
their own national interest,
as a national problem. It's not.
we got into recently with our partners,
"We can't cut any more."
the Australian leader, said,
we are cutting back.
Why don't you keep it?
the rest of your emissions
within your borders,
you're sending it our way,
the future of our children.
of the problem of climate change today.
at the end of this year,
as a global phenomenon,
individually, as nations,
to do anything about it,
dealt with collectively.
at responding to graphs and numbers,
at responding to that sometimes.
very possible that your nation,
the intense problems you face,
to the world that shines most visibly,
I'm sure, on behalf of all of us,
and for being here.
About the Speaker:Anote Tong - President of the Republic of Kiribati
Anote Tong has built worldwide awareness of the potentially devastating impacts of climate change.
Why you should listen
His Excellency Anote Tong is the fourth President of the Republic of Kiribati. He was first elected as President on 10 July 2003 and subsequently won two more elections in 2007 and in 2012. He is now serving his last term, which will end in mid-2015. Under his leadership, President Anote Tong also holds the portfolio of Head of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.
Anote Tong was born in 1952 on Fanning Island (also known as Tabuaeran) in the Line Islands and is a member of the Kiribati House of Parliament from the constituency of Maiana Island in the central Kiribati group.
Educated in New Zealand and in England at the University of Canterbury and the London School of Economics respectively, President Tong holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Economics under his belt.
Since the beginning of his presidency, President Anote Tong has become a strong climate change advocate and has built worldwide awareness of the potentially devastating impacts of climate change.
He has stated on many occasions that Kiribati may cease to exist altogether and that its entire population may need to be resettled not as climate change refugees but as citizens who migrate on merit and with dignity.
With one of the lowest carbon-emission footprints in the world, Tong has often described Kiribati as a “frontline country” that has been among the first to experience dramatic climate change impacts.
As an extraordinary measure to set an example for the rest of the world, President Tong created the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, one of the largest marine protected areas in the world with a size of 408,250 square kilometers which was inscribed as a United Nations World Heritage site in 2008.
President Tong has won a number of awards and recognition that acknowledges his contribution and leadership on climate change and ocean conservation.