Anote Tong, President of the Pacific Republic of Kiribati

In September 2014 Anote Tong, President of the Pacific Republic of Kiribati, journeyed to the Arctic to see first hand the melting Arctic glaciers that are affecting his drowning Pacific paradise.

Sea levels are rising faster in the Central-West Pacific than nearly anywhere else in the world, forcing the Islands of Kiribati, with a population of 100 000, to prepare to be wiped out.

Like most people, President Tong had never been to the Arctic. And it turned out to be a powerful experience.

"Kiribati is a beautiful island. But very vulnerable. Very low-lying and therefore highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, particularly of sea level rise. And so, our future days are numbered. Our islands will be severely affected to the extent that within this century, perhaps even before that, a substantial part of most of the islands will be under water.

Here in the Arctic, it is a totally different world from what I know. But what I see clearly indicates that climate is indeed a global process. If that [polar ice] will continue to melt then obviously this will also accelerate the demise of our countries.

It [climate change] is not a problem that individuals or any single nation can deal with. It is a problem that requires remarkable global leadership. And a lot of people will not react until their own world is under threat. But what I think they must understand is; Our world is being threatened. We are the first on the front line. But they will be the next if nothing is done.

What I would like people to be, is to be human beings. To be moral human beings and to be able to understand that what they do might be negative to those people on the other side of the world. And if they have the capacity then they have the obligation to do something about it.”