Kiribati President Taneti Maamau has told the United Nations General Assembly, the island nation is experiencing intensifying severe drought and coastal inundation affecting homes, public infrastructure, food and water security due to climate change.

“The projected cost for adaptation has significantly increased therefore developed countries are urged to put more funds beyond the global pledge agreed to in Paris.

This would also finance the loss and damage and facilitate investment in early warning systems and forecast. With that said, this would help our people adapt to the changing environmental conditions and to build resilience in our communities,” President Maamau told world leaders in New York.

He said Kiribati is faced with significant challenges due to its geographical isolation, scatteredness of its islands within its 3.5 million square kilometre Economic Exclusive Zone and vulnerability to climate change to name a few.

“Encountered with these significant challenges, delivery of essential services such as education, health, security including implementation of activities related to achieving SDGs in Kiribati is very costly.

“We should be given increased access to financial resources to obtain equipment, infrastructure and others to achieve SDGs and at the same time develop our country. This includes an urgent call to scale up global financial resources and simplifyingguidelines to allow easy access.

Achieving these, guarantees Kiribati, to be placed in a better position to sustain peace and harmony,” said President Maamau.

With a vast ocean and airspace, Kiribati’s resources are central to our survival, development and security, he said.

“To harness our ocean resources sustainably, we need financial assistance and access to the right capabilities, technology and equipment. Likewise, the management of our airspace is important for security purposes.

This will enable us to effectively manage our maritime domain and airspace, ensuring responsible utilisation while protecting our fragile ecosystem,” the Kiribati President said.

President Maamau also raised concerns on the discharge of treated nuclear waste water into the Pacific Ocean.

“In Kiribati, we strongly believe that this is deeply threatened and undermined by the continued existence of nuclear weapons, the discharge of nuclear treated water and leak of radioactive materials into the Blue Pacific Ocean.

“The existence of nuclear weapons also diminishes trust in our UN Family members on their commitment to peace and stability, if they continue to manufacture and possess nuclear weapons,” he explained.

He also told the UN General Assembly, Banaban people include those exposed to nuclear test in Christmas Island must be compensated.

“Kiribati will continue promoting the non-proliferation and ultimately the total elimination of nuclear weapons to our United Nations, in particular our obligations in keeping our region, our land, our upper airspace and ocean free of environmental destruction and pollution with radioactive wastes and other materials including plastics.

“Most importantly, is the health of our people especially those who were exposed to the nuclear test blasts on Christmas Island, and those whose ancestral land have been exploited leaving pinnacles behind.

Compensations must be made to those on Christmas Island including the Banaban people affected by environmental degradation to rebuild trust,” President Maamau told the UN General Assembly.