Speaking at the final meeting of APEC leaders in Manila, Philippines last week, Prime Minister O’Neill highlighted the seriousness of the situation in the Pacific.
Following the meeting, Prime Minister O’Neill and United States President, Barak Obama, agreed to continue to address these issues when they meet at the United Nations Climate Change meeting in Paris, France, later this month.
“As Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum countries, I want to stress here to our member economies that the most vulnerable countries in our region are the small island nations in the pacific.
“As we speak today, there are some countries like Kiribati, some countries like Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, that may not exist in our lifetime.”
PM O’Neill echoed sentiments that are already known around the Pacific to the Leaders of some of the largest countries in the world, he stated that proposed action is late but countries must be proactive for the sake of people at risk.
“The interventions that we are talking about may be too late for them,” PM O’Neill said.
“We all understand they also have the right to exist in this world.
“They have thousands of years of culture, thousands of years of living on their islands and in their communities.
“I think that these people expect our attention and I think that is important that when we meet in Paris we listen to them.
“We also take note that they have the right to live in this world as we do.”
Prime Minister O’Neill thanked President Xi of China and President Obama for taking leadership on the issue of Climate Change and he looks forward to solid outcomes from the Paris Climate Change talks.
“I know that once we conclude the COP-21 meetings in Paris that we will come out with outcomes that is going to be acceptable to all economies around the world.
“As a premier grouping within the Asia-Pacific region, APEC has a much greater sense for responsibility, especially to those who cannot speak for themselves.”