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Pacific leaders being ignored by the international community, says Tong

Tuesday 3 May 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional

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Pacific leaders being ignored by the international community, says Tong
Anote Tong. Photo: RNZI

Pacific leaders are being ignored, says former President of Kiribati, Anote Tong. He believes that the international community is ignoring the dire impact of climate change on the Pacific region.

Tong - who is now a member of the Elders Voice - was one of the authors of a statement released by the group - raising concerns about growing military tension overshadowing climate change as a priority security issue for the Pacific.

He said the issue of climate security is receiving less attention because major powers are interested in "their own rivalries."Anote Tong speaks here to Kelvin Anthony duration5′ :58″from Pacific WavesAdd to playlistDownload

He said the recent China-Solomon Islands security pact has prompted uproar from America, Australia, and New Zealand. This turmoil shows that geostrategic tensions are far more important to these developed countries than the climate crisis facing the Pacific region.

Tong said Pacific leaders have been "screaming that climate change" is the region's highest priority.

"I don't think we have been heard. I suspect that there are countries who do not believe that climate change is as relevant to them as their own rivalries in terms of the powers that they deal with.

I think it is important to make that point that here we are, we are part of the discussions and that whatever we do with other partners is regarded as impinging on the wider security issues of the region," he said.

Tong said the Pacific needs to be included in the decision-making processes even if they don't have any significant input.

"And I think it's a bit interesting that all of the security discussions are going on around us and not with us and that is the question we are raising you know should we not be part of the discussions in many ways," he said.

The former Kiribati president said decisions made by major powers like China, the United States, and its allies, affect the region very directly.