The President of the Republic of Kiribati and the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) met on 4-5 September 2011 during the visit of the Secretary-General to Kiribati, one of the frontlines of the global climate change crisis.
At their meeting, the President of Kiribati welcomed the first ever visit by a Secretary-General of the UN, and expressed his gratitude for the Secretary-General's ongoing efforts to urge the world to address climate change.
The Secretary-General congratulated the President of Kiribati on his active participation in the multilateral efforts to address climate change, in particular by promoting dialogue among different Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
In this regard, the Secretary-General acknowledged the value of initiatives like the Tarawa Climate Change Conference, organized by Kiribati in November 2010, in preparation of the Cancún Climate Change Conference.
The President of Kiribati and the Secretary-General agreed that climate change represents an urgent and irreversible threat to the people of this region and the planet, and thus requires urgent action by all parties.
They stressed that climate change poses the most serious threat to the livelihoods, security, well-being and survival of the peoples of Kiribati and the Pacific, and that it undermines their efforts to achieve sustainable development goals.
Both leaders reaffirmed the need for urgent international action to reduce emissions consistent with the science.
They also underlined the urgent need for adaptation financing to enable the implementation of critical adaptation programmes to address the adverse impacts of climate change on the local communities.
The President and the Secretary-General reaffirmed the particular vulnerabilities and development needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and emphasised the importance of enhanced coherence, coordination and responsiveness in support for SIDS.
They noted the wide range of specific actions that the peoples of the Pacific and their Governments can undertake to reduce emissions, build resilient communities and set the world in the path of a greener economy. In particular, they noted actions undertaken by the Republic of Kiribati, such as mangrove forest management, major biodiversity conservation initiatives such as the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, water resource management and enhancing coastal resilience.
The leaders discussed the importance of actions implemented under the Kiribati Adaptation Programme, such as raising awareness of climate change, assessing and protecting available water resources, and managing inundation.
The President, the Secretary-General, and the Minister of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development planted mangroves as part of Kiribati's adaptation measures to protect the atoll coastline.
The Secretary-General also met with communities that have lost homes, land, and fresh water to rising sea levels. The urgency of the need to address climate change could not be clearer than when observing the reality of people whose livelihoods and even lives are at stake.