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Future of small island nations worrisome
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15:29, August 08, 2009

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Interests of small island nations, life-threatening climate change issue and sustainable of Pacific fragile economies attracts attention of 15 heads of island states, and more than 450 participants in a small Australian northeastern city here in the past two days.

However, thought deep concerns have been repeatedly expressed, challenge remains harsh and future of small island nations still worrisome.

It is yet to be seen the timeliness and effectiveness regional organization like Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and leading countries as Australia and New Zealand would generate to ease those concerns in the Pacific.


Not surprisingly, climate change remains the top concern in this years' Forum agenda. In fact, it has been enjoying the biggest attention throughout the 38-year history of PIF.

In this year's Forum, new rotating chairman of PIF, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has repeated the concern many times, saying almost half of the islanders are living in a place about 1.5 km to seashore and some islands are literally under the sea level.

Australian climate change Minister Penny Wong noted what has happened to the small island states today will probably happen to us all in the world. That's why Australia is taking and will still take the lead in a long run.

Being "laboratory" of the test whether mankind can demonstrate economic activities and business are compatible with climate change and environmental protection, the island nations benefit much from funds and aids flow in from developed economies.

Therefore, the Pacific region has currently the highest rate of per capital aid in the whole world.

Analysts here said that climate change is a pressing issue as smaller island states are disappearing with each passing day. It is the time that would matter, but it is just the thing that those smaller island states can not afford to waste.

Therefore, the real challenge towards climate change issue might be how timely those outcomes can be seen.


Leaders attending the 40th Pacific Islands Forum reiterated a commitment to engage Fiji on an early return to democracy so that Fiji could again take its proper place in the community of the Forum.

During discussion in sessions, the Fiji military regime was strongly condemned by all the island nations which claimed that the country has come to a severe deterioration in basic liberties and democratic institutions.

However, being mindful of Fiji's role in regional economy and transportation, island nation leaders collectively urged political dialogue to be held in Fiji between parties on the principles of genuine, inclusive dialogue without preconditions or pre-determined outcomes.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in the Forum summit meeting that "nobody in the Pacific region can afford to turn a blind eye toward what is going on in Fiji and a peaceful solution on the matter is required."

That means with no participation of Fiji, those much hailed principles of stability, prosperity, security, peace and coordination could hardly be accomplish in the Pacific region.

Therefore, leaders here in Cairns Forum agreed and believed Fiji's re-engagement in the Forum could only be resolved by existing important mechanisms for continuing dialogue with Fiji.


Being the current rotating chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Australia is obviously facing more pressure than it had before.

Australian Minister for Climate Change and Water Penny Wong told Xinhua that Australia has been contributing more each year to tackle the urgent climate change issue.

Australia is pressing forward to legislate and has to go to Copenhagen in December this year, she said, adding that climate change needs government attention and Australia is pressing for ambitious outcomes.

Therefore, some further 50 million dollars (42 million U.S. dollars) was seen allocated Thursday by Australian government to combat climate change in the region, which have left its neighboring countries an applaudable first impression as it being the new Chair.

The Australian government also reassured its island partners during the Forum meetings the funding priorities for pacific climate change adaptation to assist them to meet the immediate challenges of climate Change.

However, Wong said, being a global problem, climate change issue can never been tackled alone, it must be dealt with joint efforts globally.

Many believed that though open critique is hardly seen in the Forum, the vulnerable smaller island states still form a strong voice to press Australia to go further on the climate change issue, as the latter is virtually taking the absolute leading roles in the Pacific region in terms of population and in terms of advancement in society.

The 40th Pacific Islands Forum concluded here on Thursday with 15 heads of the island nations calling for strengthening development coordination in the pacific region and action on climate change.

The Forum addresses to common concern in the pacific region, such as regional trade, fisheries, renewable energy, regional partnership and assistance, pacific security, sexual violence, radioactive contaminants, Influenza A/H1N1 and the historic sporting ties that can help build strong communities in the region.

Source: Xinhua

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