Mr. Jeem Lippwe
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Federated States of Micronesia
Before the Thematic plenary: "Addressing climate change: The United Nations and the world at work"
New York, 13 February 2008
Check Against Delivery
I wish to express my appreciation to you, Mr. President, for organizing this meeting to discuss the important issue of climate change. I also like to align myself with the statements delivered by Grenada and Tonga on behalf of AOSIS and the Pacific SIDS.
This year's Human Development Report addressed the clear link existing between human development and climate change. In recent years, the people of Micronesia had to witness the consequences associated with it. More intense storms with higher wind speeds, higher tides and wave surges caused damages to our subsistence agriculture and fishing as well as endemic marine and terrestrial species, including coral reefs.
Increasingly extreme weather conditions lead to droughts, destroyed crops, contaminated water wells, eroding beaches and unprecedented land slides. These effects pose a great threat to my country's culture, livelihood and sustainable development.
If climate change continues at this pace, we might be forced to abandon our islands. Relocation is already happening in several Pacific Islands, including my own. This clearly shows that small island states who have contributed little to the causes of climate change are the ones now suffering the most. Their inhabitants are strongly affected by climatic disasters and thus victims to the effects created by the intimate relations between poverty and exposure to climate risks.
The latest Human Development Report traces climate related risks to energy consumption patterns and political choices of the major emitters. Therefore we ask those who pollute the most to take responsibility and underwrite the cost of adaptation in developing states, particularly in the small island developing states.
Fighting the consequences of climate change leads to a growing dependence on technical and financial support from partners. How can countries like ours, who are so reliant on the environment, improve their current situation if there exists so little international cooperation on the issues of mitigating and adapting?
Micronesia has already adopted mitigation and adaptation measures in its infrastructure and strategic development plans, for example initiatives that protect mangrove areas, coastal beaches and climate proofing procedures for infrastructure. But the truth is, this is as much as we can do given our financial resources.
And what opportunities does a small island developing state like Micronesia have? Being a federation of islands, situated only few meters above sea level, how can we defend ourselves against rising sea levels? One possible solution, to build sea walls around every island in Micronesia, would not only mean a huge investment, but it would also be impractical.
Investing in renewable sources of clean energy in vulnerable countries will help us in meeting our energy needs and combat climate change. Support for development, utilization and the distribution of renewable energy technologies to small island developing states is necessary. In order to facilitate this, it is important to mainstream the Mauritius Strategy into all United Nations processes.
As climate change progresses, basic human rights such as the right to food, the right to safe water, the right to education, health, development and the right to exist are in danger, especially for small-island developing states. The effects of climate change will slowly remove basic human rights from society and the UN must address these interrelations.
Article Three of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights declares that "everyone has a right to life, liberty and security of person." Not to act on the threats climate change imposes on us would lead to a violation of those universal Human Rights. Forcing inhabitants to leave their ancestral home lands because of changes to the climate caused by other nations would certainly qualify as a violation of Article Three.
Mr. President, I want to emphasize that we are all responsible for the future of our planet Earth. Engaging actively in the prevention of climate change is a moral obligation that we all should be willing to fulfill. The attention paid to climate change worldwide is one step towards the right direction, but what we all need to do is collectively find a way to prevent our planet from further damage for future generations by cooperation and communication. I know this debate is part of this process.