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By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Funafuti
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was touched by the pleas of the young children of Tuvalu asking leaders to act for climate change now to secure their future.
Since last Saturday when Leaders and delegates started arriving, young Tuvaluan children, as young as five- and six-year olds have been braving the cold and heat, sitting in pool of water around a symbolic sinking island.
Senior Tuvaluan Government officials say the young children are telling the world their future is in their hands – if they don’t act decisively to reduce their emissions and cap temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, then it will be a ‘grim future’ for the next generation of Tuvaluans.
Ardern said she expected climate change to dominate discussions at the Forum Leaders meeting and ‘rightfully that should be dominated by the voices of young people as they are generation that we need to act on their behalf.’
“Tuvalu is sending a strong message by putting young people in the front and centre, said the NZ leader who appeared emotional as she watched young children singing “Save Tuvalu, Save the World and the Time to Act is Now.”
“The issue of climate change falls on the shoulders of the next generation and children ultimately and I can see why Tuvalu wants to impart that message strongly and have children share that message themselves.
“Every Pacific Island that I have visited, you see unique culture and hospitality similar to what was on display today, said PM Ardern.
When pressed for a comment on the position pushed by Pacific nations of 1.5 degrees temperature goal, the New Zealand leader said the final text of the communique is not final yet and this is still being negotiated.
“New Zealand’s ambition is to move to a goal of 100 percent renewable energy for electricity source by 2035 and we have our domestic ambition in that space.
“The text is still being negotiated and we will leave the text to that place. It will be more powerful if is issued as a whole group text as we prepare to the UN General Assembly in September that will be dominated by climate change, said PM Ardern.
She did not refer to the Tuvalu Declaration on climate change and the survival of Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) – a statement endorsed by Smaller Island States Tuesday, which excludes two members of the Forum – Australia and New Zealand.
Ardern instead focused on her country’s support to the Pacific – identifying with the Pacific as New Zealand’s neighbour and home to a big part of the Pacific diaspora population.
“We want to shift the relationship from a donor – donee to acknowledge the respect relationship that exists between us and our Pacific neighbours.
“For us it means increasing our diplomatic relations, increasing ministerial dialogue between NZ and the Pacific Islands and increasing our Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) with a particular focus on climate change, That’s is what our entire relationship is about Ardern, who’s attending her second Pacific Islands Forum meeting said New Zealand has a duty of care towards the Pacific.
“Our relationship with the Pacific is based on NZ principles and whenever we go into a Forum like this where there are a number of leaders we take a principled position on behalf of NZ – making sure we are doing our part domestically and doing our bit to support our Pacific neighbours to make the transition around climate change as well., said Jacinda Ardern.
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