A special report from the Kiribati Embassy in Taiwan
The Kiribati mission in Taiwan was amongst a crowd of diplomats, government dignitaries and environmental enthusiasts who gathered last week in Taipei to celebrate the 2014 World Environment Day.
Themed as “Raise our voice, not sea level rise” the 2014 World Environment Day acknowledges the plight of the small island developing states. For countries like Kiribati such a plight focuses on environmental issues and challenges such as climate change which ranges from pollution to disturbance of the natural equilibrium to name but a few.
“For me, and my brothers and sisters from the Pacific countries I give thanks to the decision by the Republic of China (Taiwan) through its Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to work with the Pacific Island countries in honouring the 2014 World Environment Day.” Kiribati’s Ambassador to Taiwan, Her Excellency Teekoa Iuta said in her statement during the World Environment Day celebrations.
In her remarks, Ambassador Iuta said that Kiribati has continually voiced its concerns at regional and global climate change forums with their debates and arguments taking many forms.
“In the early years we voiced our anger and blamed the world for the dangers to our islands and threats to our lives. But over the years we realized we cannot achieve much if we do not take charge of our situation but leave it to others. Thus we collaborated together and implored on the justice and morality of mankind to work together to save our planet earth for it is our moral responsibility to do so for our children and our grandchildren.” Ambassador Iuta said.
Iuta added by elaborating on the actions taken by Kiribati to address the issue of climate change which includes re-planting of mangroves to protect the shoreline, establishment of a Parliamentary Climate Change Committee that will assist government in coordinating and implementing climate change and environment development plans, creating the Phoenix Islands Protected Area which is closed-off from fishing and other extractive activities to name but a few.
“Taiwan has been a strong and committed friend in our endevour to combat challenges of climate change and I acknowledge the visible and invaluable assistance provided to Kiribati through agriculture and aquaculture projects offered by the Taiwan Technical Mission and also of the provision of solar lamps for our schoold children and rural communities among other assistances.” Iuta said.
Minister Wei from the Environment Protection Agency said very little is known about the environmental challenges faced by small island developing states, specifically the very serious and real threat of climate change to countries like Kiribati and Tuvalu and hopes that this year’s World Environment Day will be the beginning of more public awareness within the Taiwan public.
Kiribati and Taiwan established diplomatic relations in 2003 and has been advocating the full membership of Taiwan in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ever since.