Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Pacific's smallest island nation at the worlds largest UN meet

From the atoll of Fakaofo to the Bella Centre, it has been a long journey of over four days for Faipule Foua Toloa, the Ulu, or titular head of Tokelau. Toloa (pictured) has come to Copenhagen, Denmark hopeful that his small island nation accessible only by sea, will be given observer status with the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS). Toloa is attending the COP 15 as a member of the New Zealand delegation. Tokelauans like Cook Islanders and Niueans are all New Zealand citizens. Toloa is joined by Lili Tuioti who is also representing Tokelau within the New Zealand delegation. Both members arrived on day 3 of the climate change negotiations. “We are the only territory of NZ who have not been involved with discussing environmental issues when we would be the first, like many other countries in the Pacific, to go under water from the rising sea levels,” said Toloa.
“There are very important issues regarding climate change and we haven’t been involved from the beginning, but we are coming here now. As the new leader of Tokelau, I see that climate change is a top issue and I am putting that as a priority.”

As at July this year the census estimated a population of just over 1,400 which reside on three atolls which make up the nation which is currently under New Zealand administration.

Tokealu lies in the Pacific typhoon belt and it is understood that the highest point for the islands nation is 5 metres. The impacts of climate change are a serious threat to the survival of the people of Tokelau, says its Ulu. “Even though we are part of the New Zealand delegation I am hoping we can have some understanding on this issue of climate change. At the same time I have appealed to AOSIS, the voice of the Small Islands Developing States so that at least we can be heard."--ENDS

Nanette Woonton

Climate Pasifika

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