Kiribati youth try to save their island nation

Small island states may be the least responsible for global rising temperatures, but they are suffering the most from its adverse effects, according to the UN’s climate body. The Pacific island nation of Kiribati is on the front line of climate change and might soon become inhabitable. But the youth is working hard to raise awareness on their plight within their communities, and in the world. The fate of Kirabati is in the hands of global polluters and the nation is counting on global environmental solutions to save them. Jocelyne Sambira reports.

Duration: 2’26″

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A group of young people in Kiribati, an island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, are rising to the challenge of climate change.

Kiribati is one of the island nations expected to disappear due to climate change.

Already rising sea levels pound the island and its atolls day and night, crowding in on scarce supplies of fresh water and limited patches of fertile land. The nation also suffers from frequent droughts.

For the young people of Kiribati, the impact of this slow disaster is frightening.

Iaoniman Kambati is a student.

“Our islands are really very low and narrow. But it is not only fighting storms, we have had no rain for many months, and the drinking water in a lot of our wells has become salty, you can’t drink it. Most of their food and protein comes from the reef, but the rising temperatures have begun to destroy them.”

Young people have been holding workshops on many of the islands to spread the word and try to come up with practical solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Iaoniman Kambati again:

“You know as young people who will be leaders of tomorrow, we are not just sitting around doing nothing, we are trying to do something about this issue.”

With the help of UNICEF, young people are reaching out to the world using Internet and social media like Facebook to show to the world how climate change is affecting them.

But Kiribati’s emissions are only minimal, most of the emissions the nation is suffering from come from bigger countries and polluters like United States

Anote Tong, President of Kiribati is impressed with the youth’s efforts to solve the country’s environmental problems.

“I think that we are robbing our young people of their opportunity. Those countries that continue business as usual are actually hurting the future of the young people.”

To deal with the effects of climate change, the government has had to divert funding away from essential sectors like education, health, transportation and communications.

President Tong says he hopes the world will listen to the Kiribati youth and take urgent action:

“Our young people are perhaps one of the happiest in the planet and I think it is such a pity that they are enjoying life here but without their knowledge it is actually being destroyed from somewhere else. We are talking about young people, we are talking about real human beings whose lives are at stake, whose future as a people are at stake. Once again, I appeal to the international community not to continue to negotiate over it, but do something concretely.”

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations. 

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December 2017
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