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Eye On The World – Pacific Forum & Climate Change Challenge

Radio Wammo: Eye On The World – With Glenn Williams & Selwyn Manning

Glenn Williams hosts Eye On The World, a weekly look at foreign affairs with Scoop's Selwyn Manning. This week: The Pacific Islands Forum & The Climate Change Challenge.

RUN-SHEET Eye On The World – September 7 2011.

The United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon is in the Pacific, and significantly has arrived in Auckland, New Zealand where he will attend the annual Pacific Islands Forum.

Leaders of Pacific Island states meet annually to discuss the big issues impacting on the world's most expansive region.

The big issues to be discussed this year will include sustainable energy challenges for Pacific Island states, natural resources and commodities, security and sustainable development and social goals.

    [FULL AUDIO] Australia's prime minister Julia Gillard welcomed Ban Ki-moon to the Pacific
    3:47 to 4:33


That report preceded Ban Ki-moon's visit to Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

The two island states represent two distinctly different challenges in the region.

Kiribati represents the global challenge of how to curb the rise of the world's sea-level.

    [FULL AUDIO] UNICEF report on Kiribati youth speaking of their concerns:
    0:00 to 0:54


After visiting Kiribati, Ban said: “Kiribati will strengthen my belief, my conviction that this climate change is a much more serious security issue."

The Secretary General added he would take Kiribati's and the Pacific's concerns “back to the world, to the United Nations General Assembly, to the climate change negotiations in Durban later this year and to the Rio20 Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.”

The Solomon Islands represents regional stability, especially in as Melanesia adjusts to this post-colonial period and redefines its sense of nationhood.

The Solomon Islands of course had descended into civil war. The fractures are still evident, but the country is progressing toward stable government and society.

In 2003, the prime ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Solomon Islands, PNG, Vanuatu, Samoa, and Tonga met in Townsville on an Australian air force base to sign a nonaggression pact. While the ink was still wet, thousands of soldiers from these nations left for Honiara, the capital of the Solomons.

Since then the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has assisted the Solomons to become more secure and to establish good governance and civil society.

    [FULL AUDIO] Australia's defence minister Stephen Smith visits Honiara:
    0:00 to 0:33


The United Nations secretary general has now seen how a relatively successful regional military and police force has assisted stability.

*******

Other small Pacific Island states are in Auckland to highlight their plight. The common issues most often are caused by exploitation of natural resources and again, climate change.

Take Tokelau's three atolls known as Fukuofo, Nukunonu, and Atafu. They sit about 350 nautical miles north of Apia, Samoa. Tokelau is administered by New Zealand and virtually self-governed by its own people with rotating leaders, known as Ulu.

These atolls are susceptible to oceanic storms, particularly tropical cyclones that have become more severe in recent times.

    [FULL AUDIO] Here's part of a documentary I did in 2007 where Tokelau's conservation man talks of how the coastline of these tiny atolls is eroding:

    4:33 to 5:12


As you heard, Tokelau has been trying to get money to buy materials to build sea-walls to keep Pacific Ocean waves from eating into their villages.

I can tell you from having been there, when a cyclone hits, it has been known for Tokelau's Nukunonu Atoll to become submerged and under the ocean waves.

Its people take shelter in a large concrete building that is constructed to withstand such storms.

When a cyclone hits, its low pressure system acts like a vacuum cleaner and sucks the sea level up higher than normal, sometimes by many meters.

At a place where the village's school is, near the David Lange Building, the Pacific Ocean waves meet those of the lagoon and the atoll is swallowed up.

    Here's a clip from the documentary we mentioned before:
    5:55 to 6:27


For Tokelau's people, they do not want to be victims of climate change catastrophe, but rather they want to be seen as examples of climate change adaptation.

These kind of issues are being discussed in Auckland this week.

And I have to give a plug to David Robie and his team of nine post-graduate journalists who are doing a fantastic job covering the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland.

ENDS

Eye On The World broadcasts on KiwiFM and Radio Wammo at 7:40am on Tuesdays. Video on demand episodes also webcast on Scoop.co.nz.

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