Fijians speak from the front lines of climate change

The World
Fiji's Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama recently led a rally in support of this year's UN climate summit in Germany, at which Fiji will be presiding.

Fiji is on the front lines of climate change, one of many tiny island nations that could be wiped out by rising seas and more intense storms. And to draw attention to the urgency of their plight, the country is presiding over this year’s global climate summit in Bonn, Germany.

We asked half a dozen Fijians about the threats to their country and their moment in the international spotlight.

Maria Nailevu:

Maria Nailevu

Sonia Narang/PRI

This is really a big opportunity to showcase to the world the reality that we are experiencing right now in Fiji. Especially in the Pacific, being at the front line of climate change, any increase to the temperature will be catastrophic. So it's very, very much a big moment for us.

Malakai Nalawa:

Malakai Nalawa

Sonia Narang/PRI

It's for the whole Pacific island nations that we are advocating — so that we can have a safe environment for all in the South Pacific.

Sereana Sevutia Madigibuli:

Sereana Sevutia Madigibuli

Sonia Narang/PRI

I’m actually proud that my government is recognizing this problem, that my country is hosting. The message I can say to these gigantic countries out there — like the United States— is, "C’mon, you guys really need to hear our plea, at least have time to come down and see for yourself what we are going through. It’s not our fault. We don’t have that much industrial factories like the United States or China does. We never created this."

Arieta Moceica:

Arieta Moceica

Sonia Narang/PRI

What I hope to come out of this year's COP is increased commitment to financing. Financing mechanisms will be made much more accessible to small island states. Fiji, like other small islands states, have not been responsible for the mess that we're in, but we're the first to suffer. But we're also showing that we take responsibility for whatever little spheres of influence that we have. And that any little action counts, and goes a long way.

Sikeli Quonadovu:

Sikeli Quonadovu

Sonia Narang/PRI

There’s been a lot of conferences, workshops, seminars, you name it. The big question is: when will we see action? So, I hope that in Bonn, Germany, we will see action. And we want commitment from these leaders. We want to see global carbon emissions to be reduced.

Timaima Vakadewabuka:

Timaima Vakadewabuka

Sonia Narang/PRI

I think a real goal is to be able to just to tell people and tell the world, "Hey, climate change is real, and we're facing these problems. Today it's us that are suffering the effects, and tomorrow it'll be you. We're all in the same boat. And it's sinking." 

This story was reported with support from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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