The royal visit to Tuvalu focuses on climate change | Pacific Beat

The royal visit to Tuvalu focuses on climate change

The royal visit to Tuvalu focuses on climate change

Updated 17 September 2012, 17:24 AEST

The Diamond Jubilee Royal Tour of the Pacific moves to Tuvalu tomorrow when Prince William and his wife Kate will be carried from their aircraft on multi-coloured throne chairs.

The visit will focus world attention on climate change as Tuvalu is at the forefront of small island nations already feeling the effects of rising sea levels.

But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will not have a chance to talk to Non-government organisations in Tuvalu working on keeping back the sea.

Maina Talia is secretary of the Tuvalu Climate Action network. (He's speaking to Brian Abbott.)

Presenter: Brian Abbott

Speaker:Maina Talia the secretary of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network

TALIA: Basically now the whole country doing their best to prepare the island for the arrival of the Royal couple and we're doing our best in trying to reveal to them the most vulnerable places that affected by climate change.

ABBOTT: What are those most vulnerable places? Will they see houses in water, will they see ruined gardens, what precisely will they see?

TALIA: Basically I'm not really sure of like what is the arrangement between the government of Tuvalu and the royal couple, but I must say that on their arrival, they must see how vulnerable we are to climate change, even they can see the impact on gardens, on our food security and even we have lost a lot of traditional root crops due to the long drought that we faced last year and the beginning of this year. So they can see it for themselves when they go around the island.

ABBOTT: Will they have a chance to meet with people from the Tuvalu Climate Action Network?

TALIA: No, the program is very tight, All the time here has been occupied by island communities and they won't be flexible to see us Tuvalu Climate Action has worked in other NGOs, so I'm sure it won't be a chance for them to talk with us.

ABBOTT: If you had half-an-hour with the future king of England and his wife, what would you tell them?

TALIA: Oh, we have a chance to talk to them, we would surely advocate our right to exist as a nation, our right to exist as people and our right to remain on our own island rather than trying to surrender our rights to something that we haven't done and our contributions to the problem is almost next to nothing. So I will tell them and other of my mates we will try and convince them that we still want to live on our own island and we should feel our sovereign right to exist as people, rather than relocating to other islands.

ABBOTT: How real is that threat of people being moved out of Tuvalu?

TALIA: It's realistic and most of the people have been migrated to other parts of the world, especially to New Zealand and Australia. But it's not a matter of choice. It's a matter of resources. How much you have in your pocket to move. Not everybody from Tuvalu can relocate, so it's not a choice for the poor people. It's just a choice for the rich people.

ABBOTT: If you were able to get funding from anywhere in the world, is there anything that can be done in Tuvalu to turn back climate change or are you suffering the excesses of the industrialised Western world?

TALIA: If we have some funding, some big funding from donors around the world to help us adapt to the change of climate that we are facing, not only in order to develop the different kinds of things that we could install here in our islands in order to minimise our soil erosion, especially storm threats that frequently visit our islands. So it's going to be a good chance if we have some funding from different donors.

ABBOTT: Are we talking about a lot of money involved or can these programs be completed with just a reasonable amount of money? How much money do you need to stop this erosion?

TALIA: I am sure that the whole people of Tuvalu are not urging the world for money in order for survival. What we're trying to say that what we need, not only some money to adapt our people, but a reasonable amount that will help build up sea walls in other parts of the island that has been destroyed by climate change, but more importantly, it's not money that we were are after. What we ask the world is to get our message across that there's a lot of human beings here in Tuvalu that are so vulnerable to the change of climate that others in the other side of the world are enjoying while we suffer the consequence of their luxury life. So it's a matter of either they give some money to develop or they change the way they live.

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