The impact of climate change on Small Island States was the focus of a Pacific Symposium, held at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, as part of Tuvalu language celebrations last week.
Speakers for the Tuvalu and Pacific Symposium Climate Change Adaptation, highlighted the effects of global warming, rising sea levels, not only on the environment, but on the people of Tuvalu and Kiribati.
Images show impact of climate change in Tuvalul. Photo/Tevina Tupoufalepouvalu.
Tuvalu early childhood specialist Tevina Tupoufalepouvalu says climate change is real and the Tuvalu way of life is at risk of disappearing.
“There are already islands in Nukufetau one in Vaitupu and two in Nukulaelae that are already submerged or at the verge of disappearing.”
Kiribati academic Dr. John Corcoran has conducted a series of studies on climate change over the past 20 years. He says he has seen first-hand the destruction climate change has had on his country and in Tuvalu.
He says there’s no denying the rising sea levels and the heat of the sun has intensified.
“Most people back home are more aware about the issue now, even though in the past they use to think that their faith in God will save them," he says. "But right now they are more aware that climate change is not about the bible but more about what we the global community are doing to the environment."
Spokesperson for the Tuvalu Climate Action At Work says he’s proud to see the Tuvalu community in New Zealand taking a genuine interest in what is happening back home.
Maina Talia says there has been a lot of discussion about where the people of Tuvalu will go if the islands become uninhabitable.
According to the 2012 census the population of Tuvalu is more than twelve thousand.
However he says leaving their home is not the answer.
“Force migration is not just a discussion at government level, it is also about peoples personal convictions, relocation is not an appropriate measure for now.”
Tuvalu and Pacific Symposium Climate Change Adaptation panel (left to right): Dr. John Corcoran, Tevina Tupoufalepouvalu, Maina Talia and Kelesoma Saloa at the University of Waikato. Photo/ PRN.