UN chief outlines ‘intertwined challenges’ of climate change, ocean health facing Pacific nations on the ‘frontline’
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United Nations, May 15 (Canadian-Media/UN): Visiting Fiji for the first time as Secretary-General, António Guterres outlined two “fundamental challenges” facing leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum on Thursday, namely climate change and the world’s rising ocean, which threatens to submerge low-lying nations, United Nations (UN) reports said.
Image Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten: The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji on 15 May 2019.
“The Pacific region is on the frontline of climate change”, he said. “That means you are also our important allies in the fight against it”.
The UN chief said that he was there “to see the region’s climate pressures firsthand, and to learn about the work being undertaken by communities here in Fiji and elsewhere to bolster resilience”.
Noting that the last four years were the hottest on record, Mr. Guterres highlighted recent ice losses in Greenland and Antarctica, saying that “sea levels will rise a full meter by 2100”.
In the Pacific specifically, he said that sea-levels are set to rise in some countries four times above the global average, posing “an existential threat to some island States”.
Providing “ample evidence of the region’s vulnerability” the UN chief cited recent damage caused by Tropical Cyclones Gita, Josie and Keni as well as by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes and other extreme weather events in the region.
“Climate change will further worsen the risks”, he spelled out, noting that the salinization of water and crops is endangering food security and escalating the impact on public health.
He maintained that climate change also brings “clear dangers” for international peace and security, pointing to the 2018 Boe Declaration, which reaffirms climate change as the single greatest threat to the wellbeing of the Pacific.
Mr. Guterres said that he recently appointed a task force to coordinate UN initiatives to address these challenges.