A Plea From the Pacific Nation of Tuvalu

tuvalu_250171Last year, I attended a “Make Poverty History” event put on by Oxfam in Sydney, Australia. During the event, I had the opportunity to meet a resident of Tuvalu, which is series of low lying coral atolls and home to about 12,000 people. Flown in all the way from her small South Pacific nation, she was invited to present a short film about how Tuvalu, which is only 3 meters above sea-level, is slowly sinking under water by rising sea levels. More frequent and intense storm surges were also threatening the residents’ livelihoods more than ever before.

She made it known that Tuvaluans prefer not to be called “environmental refugees”, as the term somewhat robs them of their dignity. However, she admitted that her and her people may have to abandon their island home in the future. Although Tuvaluans stress the dire need for legal status for migration to nearby countries like Australia and New Zealand, their primary request from the world is that climate change mitigation is to be taken seriously with responsible actions being taken where necessary, including the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. This was stressed by Tuvalu Governor General Tomasi Puapua in his 2002 appeal to the United Nations General Assembly by saying:

“Taking us as environmental refugees, is not what Tuvalu is after in the long run. We want the islands of Tuvalu and our nation to remain permanently and not be submerged as a result of greed and uncontrolled consumption of industrialized countries. We want our children to grow up the way we grew up in our own islands and in our own culture.”

Below is a video by Oxfam Australia which highlights this request.

Source: Oxfam Australia on YouTube

Article by Dan DaSilva

Leave a Comment