| UN News
NEW YORK - A young advocate from Papua New Guinea has painted a vivid picture of the dangers facing small island developing states as the world warms and the seas rise.
Vinzealhar Ainjo Kwangin Nen was speaking to delegates at a major United Nations summit in New York on Friday looking at the progress and pitfalls of small island states facing climate change.
“All of us from small islands can relate to the word’s perception of us as small islands,” she said, but asked the audience to imagine instead “an undivided Pacific, connected by an ocean highway.”
She made a plea to world leaders on behalf of her generation, which is on the front line of climate change.
Speaking from the General Assembly Hall podium, she offered a personal view in poetic form, of the struggles she is dealing with.
“I am a youth of a small island, when in a global community most everyone doesn’t know where I am. And what hurts the most is I know where they all are.”
Testimonies like Ms Nen’s received a warm welcome during the event, geared towards addressing climate and development issues unique to island states, and assessing the implementation of priorities to accelerate their development.
The small island states plan was agreed in 2014 to focus the world’s attention on the islands development roles and vulnerabilities.
As world leaders gathered for a mid-term review of the plan’s implementation five years after its adoption, they conceded that progress toward sustainable development for required a major increase in investment and that the road to stability for many island nations is threatened by amplified environmental challenges, economic crises and food security.
While some progress has been made in addressing social inclusion, gender equality, poverty and unemployment, inequality continues to affect vulnerable groups, and devastating effects of climate change cause lasting loss of life and property.
Putting the plan into action represents “an important chance for the international community to demonstrate solidarity”, Secretary-General António Guterres stressed.
“Small island developing states are a special case for sustainable development. They require the concerted long-term attention and investment of the entire international community”, he said.