Combatting climate change at the forefront of talks in New York this week.
The President of Palau, Thomas Remengesau, co-hosted an event at the UN headquarters in New York this week, focussed on protecting the oceans and combating climate change.
The Ocean Wave event was held in collaboration with leaders from Portugal, Kenya and Norway.
Mr. Remengesau said the movement was aimed at addressing climate change and was gaining strength.
"We really need to keep the momentum going and I think what we are seeing here is the key players want to keep that momentum going and that's the first part. The second part, of course, is what action then should materialise."
Mr. Remengesau said Pacific nations need to stand fast in their call for action on climate change.
"Don't give up the fight. We're talking about our livelihood, we are talking about surviving. You have got to act like you are desperate, and we are, and we have to go every mile that needs to be taken."
In a separate event at the World Leaders for Nature event in New York, Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, announced a plan to plant about 30 million trees in response to the climate crisis.
Mr Bainimarama said the trees would be planted over the next 15 years funded by selling credits for the carbon that the trees would capture.
He said the plan would encourage Fijian people to protect trees and mangroves because it offered a financial incentive as well as a natural one.
The prime minister said healthy forests act as a carbon sink, capturing more than 20 percent of emissions that need to be reduced to limit global warming.
Also in New York, sixteen child petitioners from 12 countries around the world, including children from the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and Palau, presented a landmark official complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on Monday to protest lack of government action on the climate crisis.
The child petitioners, aged between eight and 17, alleged that Member States’ failure to tackle the climate crisis constitutes a violation of child rights. They urge the independent treaty-body to intervene and call on Member States to take urgent action to protect children from the devastating impacts of climate change.
“We all have the right to enjoy our planet and we should all protect that right. Our generation is trying to prevent climate change for future generations,” said 17-year-old Carlos Manuel, child petitioner from Koror, Palau.
“I would be disappointed with myself and our leaders for not taking action. I would feel I failed myself for not having those leaders take action because we are kids and we have a voice to make the change, but we don’t have the power to make it. We could say everything we want to say, but it’s still in their hands to make those changes.”
The complaint was filed through the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a voluntary mechanism which allows children or adults on their behalf to appeal directly to the United Nations for help if a country that has ratified the Protocol fails to provide a remedy for a rights violation.
Announced at a press conference hosted at UNICEF Headquarters in New York, the complaint aims to inspire the urgent action needed to curb global heating and mitigate the impact of the climate crisis.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by the majority of Pacific Island countries and Territories. We support children coming together, taking a stand and asking their leaders questions on what they are doing to combat climate change so that children inherit an environment in which they will thrive,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett.
UNICEF, in a statement, said it supported the child petitioners exercising their right to bring complaints via the communication procedure of the Third Optional Protocol.
However, the statement clarified that UNICEF was not a party to the complaint. “UNICEF is neutral and plays no part in the adjudication process by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.”
Sources: Radio New Zealand, Solomon Times and UNICEF.