I stand here before you as a Head of State, but I am speaking as one of the Sons of the Pacific. Our livelihood, indeed our very existence, depends upon the oceans. The ebb and flow of the oceans are as much a part of our lives as the air we breathe. But today we stand on the frontlines of climate change. The oceans, which once sustained us, are now threatening to swallow us whole.
While Palau is safe for the time being, the oceans' warming, rise and acidification threaten everyone's existence. The world cannot continue to treat climate change as subject of negotiation. Climate change is not negotiable. It is a crisis. The world must take cation immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - which is the very reason we are all here.
As Palau's President, my first duty is to protect the Palauan people. I take that responsibility very seriously; it is whey I am here in Cancun. But there is only so much I, or any Palauan, can do. The sad trush is that the countries least responsible for causing climate change ar the ones most threatened by it.
The presence of my fellow Pacific Heads of State in this room today is a testament to the threats we and other Small Island Developing States face. Let not our voices fall on deaf ears. The world must heed our cry for collective action to save us for now, and the world in the future.
The stark scientific reality we face is that much damange has already been done to our planet. I have no words to describe my deep concern at the recent findings that sea level rise has taken place disproportionately in the Pacific. But I am an optimist. I believe that human creativity and ingenuity can be refocused to turn the world's economies green and reverse the adverse affects of climate change.