Dozens of island nations signed a declaration in Indonesia on Wednesday to boost solidarity and cooperation on fighting climate threats, including rising sea levels.
Smaller nations at risk of the effects of climate change have sounded the alarm about the threat posed to their existence, seeking a bigger voice on climate diplomacy and issues that may decide their fate.
Thirty-two island states across the world—from Saint Lucia to Vanuatu, Japan to the United Kingdom—signed the joint declaration and took part in the two-day meeting of the Archipelagic and Island States Forum, which brings together nations at risk of common climate challenges.
The forum “agreed to uphold the principles of solidarity, equality and inclusiveness as a common basis for cooperation”, Indonesian President Joko Widodo told a press conference on the resort island of Bali.
Members agreed that “developing countries and the archipelagic states have the same rights to be developed, have the same rights to carry out development”, he said.
The declaration document, seen by AFP, called for all members to prioritise “climate change mitigation, adaptation and disaster management” as well as protection of the marine environment.
It also called for “good maritime governance” and “creation of sustainable economic development” of the blue economy, a term for activity on the world’s oceans, seas and coastlines.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said leaders had tasked ministers to create a road map towards formalising the 51-member forum—which was created in 2018—as an official charter-based bloc.
Alongside tiny Pacific nations like Micronesia and the Marshall Islands were bigger developed nations including Japan, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom, who are all threatened by climate change.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says sea levels rose by 15 to 25 centimeters (six to 10 inches) between 1900 and 2018.
A two-degree Celcius (3.6-degree Fahrenheit) warming compared to the pre-industrial era would raise the sea levels by 43 centimeters by 2100.
Crunch UN climate talks will be held in the United Arab Emirates later this year, several months after the UN’s first official progress report on climate concluded the world is perilously off course in meeting goals for slashing carbon pollution.