KAUSEA NATANO, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said that his country, which is on average no more than two metres above sea level, is extremely vulnerable to climate change, rising sea levels and natural disasters. “Will Tuvalu remain a Member State of the United Nations if it is finally submerged?” he wondered. “Who can help us, and will they help us?” Without answers to these difficult questions, sustainable development for low-lying countries will only be wishful thinking. Tuvalu is coping and adapting, as statelessness is not an option, but the international community must think of ways to protect the rights of people affected by climate change “and to avoid chaotic responses to uncontrolled mass climate displacement”.
He drew attention to the efforts Tuvalu is making, including a new initiative — to be advanced by like-minded countries — for protecting the Statehood of small atoll island nations facing existential threats from rising sea levels. Domestically, it has streamlined resilience into its 10-year national strategy for sustainable development. He acknowledged the help Tuvalu is getting from the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and others, but emphasized that such support must be scaled up to meet growing climate adaptation needs.
“The cost of rebuilding after every tropical cyclone and adapting to increasing sea levels leaves little fiscal space for investment in the Sustainable Development Goals,” he continued. He reiterated the call made by Pacific leaders in 2019 in the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now for the international community to do more to meet the 1.5°C target, in addition to the $100 billion global climate finance target and replenishing the Green Climate Fund to support climate adaptation needs and end fossil fuel subsidies.
The upcoming Glasgow climate summit will be a make-or-break Conference of the Parties where developed countries and major economics must demonstrate leadership, including making good on the financial promises contained in the Paris Agreement, he said. Tuvalu looks forward to the United Nations streamlining climate change and security into the work of its various bodies, thus building an Organization that is responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable States. He went on to call for the United Nations to allow Taiwan passport holders onto its premises, and expressed regret that Cuba is still subject to a unilateral economic embargo.
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