Nanette Woonton, SPREP, Climate Pasifika media
Saturday 12 December 2009, COPENHAGEN--A huge standing exhibit featuring the nations of the world in the main hall of the COP 15 Bella Centre has irked island nations leaders here. Pacific islands countries bar Fiji and Papua New Guinea are already invisible, with NGO delegates loudly asking about the absence of the Pacific Islands from the globe exhibit. Ambassador Dessima Williams of Grenada, who chairs the Alliance of Small Islands States, has also mentioned this affront in her public meetings with the press.
However, come day six of the 12-day meeting, nothing has been done to paint in the Pacific countries and others that are missing on the World map. “It’s an insult. That is like somebody telling us that we are ready to be wiped off the face of the earth,” said an indignant Andrew Yatilman of the Federated States of Micronesia. “Our country is big – the territorial boundaries are huge, so how could someone not recognise FSM?”
He and others are worried the large public centerpiece within the conference hall of the World’s biggest UN Climate Change Conference is symbolically wiping smaller countries off the face of the Earth, and smaller countries, already feeling this within the heated negotiating environment of the current meetings, are not taking kindly to the constant reminder of their invisibility.
Said one Pacific technical official, "The Alliance of Small Islands States are being given plenty of opportunity to be heard at this conference, their voice is coming across loud and clear through actions of members, the media and the NGO’s -- but the concern is whether or not they are being listened to by those from within the room compiling the text which will ultimately form a solution to our climate change problems."
"Anyone looking at this art piece, including the artist who made it, obviously thinks the Pacific islands which are members of AOSIS, don’t even exist at all." “I don’t know if it’s a sign of things to come, that we are going to be obliterated from this earth, it is insulting!” exclaimed Myra Pukaia Moekaa of the Cook Islands.
“It’s a disgrace to me. Vanuatu is a party to the convention and I expect these people to actually include all the Pacific Islands countries and we have every right to exist. We have every right to live so I was very disappointed to see that Vanuatu was not included in the globe,” said Jotham Napat of Vanuatu. While it's possible the exhibit may have been produced to scale, it did not use a 'magnifier' box as is usual practice, zooming in on the small island nations missing from the COP 15’s version of the World.
"Goodness knows there’s enough white blank space on it," was one caustic remark, "THAT's all the space where the Pacific Islands is meant to be."--ENDS