Kiribati’s President Anote Tong, a leading advocate for the Pacific over climate change, is one the keynote speakers at a landmark conference on the issue opening in Wellington today.
More than 200 people are gathering at Victoria University this week to take part in the the three-day In the Eye of the Storm conference.
The conference draws together experts across business, science, law, media and the arts to explore the effects, challenges and possible solutions to climate change in the Pacific.
Other keynote speakers eminent Australian scientist Professor Will Steffen, indigenous rights lawyer Dayle Takitimu, 350.org’s Bill McKibben (via video) and Victoria University scientists Professor James Renwick and Professor Tim Naish.
Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Luamanuvau Winnie Laban, one of the conference’s lead organisers, says the conference is a unique opportunity to hear from voices all over the Pacific.
“The Pacific is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to the effects of climate change, and we can’t sit back and wait for bigger countries to act,” she said.
“It’s critical that we understand how climate change will affect us as a region, and identify ways we can mitigate and adapt to the challenges of this global threat.
“We’re delighted to offer a line-up of such knowledgeable, talented keynote speakers and panellists, as well as having representatives from 16 Pacific Island nations in attendance.”
The conference’s official opening is this morning and includes a powhiri by Professor Piri Sciascia and a short Fijian theatre performance.