H.E. Emanuel Mori
President of the
Federated States of Micronesia
Before the 66th United Nations General Assembly
New York, 23 September 2011
Check Against Delivery
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Let me begin by extending my warm congratulations to Your Excellency as the President of the 66th United Nations General Assembly. Your strong leadership will continue the high standard set by your predecessor.
And to you, Mr. Secretary-General, I express my deepest appreciation for your many contributions and accomplishments, one of which is your recent visit to the Pacific island countries. I congratulate you and wish you well in your second term.
Climate Change and Security Council action
Last July the Security Council took a giant step with the adoption of a Presidential Statement during its debate on the issue of climate change and its security implications. We were encouraged by the bold step taken by the Council.
As a member of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), we appreciate the unprecedented action by the Security Council as we continue to face the threat to our existence and loss of territorial integrity and sovereignty from the adverse impacts of climate change and sea-level rise. The concern expressed by the Council on climate change, in particular sea-level rise as a security threat, is an important step.
We cannot help but notice, however, the persistent failure and reluctance by some countries to address the security aspect of climate change even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.
We believe that those who opposed the debate in the Council and those who doubted the security implications of climate change simply ignored the obvious. We respectfully ask those members who opposed the debate and those who are still in doubt to fulfill their responsibilities under the UN Charter. We also note the positions of aspiring members of the Council, and we thank those countries who supported our cause.
I strongly urge the Security Council, and for that matter the whole UN System, to utilize "innovative ways" to address the concerns of the most vulnerable members of this Organization.
We are grateful for the historic visit by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to our region on the 40th anniversary of the Pacific Island Forum. This is also the first time in the sixty six (66) year history of this Body that a Secretary-General ever visited any Pacific Small Island Developing State, namely Kiribati and the Solomon Islands. We are confident that the Secretary-General's visit will give a greater sense of urgency to the issue of climate change.
FSM's Proposal to address Climate Change
Climate change is no longer a hypothetical issue for the future, but rather a real tragedy for the present as we in the Pacific are already experiencing its adverse effects. These impacts will continue to worsen until countries like mine disappear unless immediate and decisive actions are taken by this Body to mitigate climate change.
It is imperative that we immediately begin to reduce emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. We must complement this action on carbon dioxide by reducing short-lived climate forcers such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and HFCs in order to prevent an additional increase of up to one degree Celsius of global warming over the next decades. Reducing these short-lived agents is one of the surest ways to protect some of the Earth's most vulnerable regions such as the Federated States of Micronesia.
I therefore call upon the international community to join this strategic approach to meeting the challenge of climate change. The time to act is NOW.
Oil Leak in the State of Chuuk
More than sixty years ago, my island country, the Federated States of Micronesia, drew worldwide attention as a battleground in the Pacific conflict. Today, the remnants of an estimated sixty (60) shipwrecks from that conflict are posing threats to the lives of our people, and our environment and the marine eco-system. Approximately thirty-two (32) million liters of oil contained in the bellies of the wrecks are a "ticking environmental time bomb". Leading experts on underwater corrosion have warned that the shipwrecks will collapse and when they do, we believe oil from these wrecks could create a spill on a massive scale with an impact comparable to the disaster last year in the Gulf of Mexico.
Oil from some of the shipwrecks in my state of Chuuk has already started leaking. Any disaster could have a devastating effect on the environment, our food chain, and the surrounding reefs that serve as breeding grounds for many fish species. It will also adversely impact our tourism industry which depends largely on coral and shipwreck diving. In this respect, and to avoid a major environmental disaster, I am now appealing to the international community for immediate assistance.
The Rio Process and the Blue Economy
Twenty years ago my country gained membership in this Organization just in time to become a part of the movement known as 'the Rio Process." Out of that process, the principle of sustainability became a mandate for development.
For the Rio+20 Conference, Micronesia and other Pacific Small Island Developing States have been calling for recognition of what we term as the "Blue Economy." As island nations with millions of square miles of the blue Pacific, we naturally have particular affinity and concerns for the ocean.
Our ocean's resources have enormous strategic value. We depend on them for our subsistence living and cultural identity as seafarers and as peoples of the Pacific. The blue Pacific has opened up new horizons for economic activities and sustainable development.
As custodians of these resources, we welcome the participation of our partners in the utilization of these resources, but for too long we have not received an equitable and fair share of our Ocean bounties.
The development of our ocean resources is severely hampered by the continuous selfish behaviors of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. If unabated, these kinds of behavior will continue to deprive our people and our nascent fishing industries of millions of dollars in revenues every year. And ocean acidification exacerbated by climate change is increasingly destroying our coral reefs, which are our natural assets and serve a vital role as buffers to the rising seas.
Conservation and sustainable management of oceanic resources is important if we are to depend on the ocean in the days ahead. In the Micronesian region we have committed to various conservation activities. One in particular is our support for the establishment of shark sanctuaries. The Federated States of Micronesia has joined Palau and other countries in committing a vast area in our Micronesian region to be sanctuaries for sharks.
Third Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS
The current mechanisms for follow-up implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI), are unlikely to provide the momentum necessary to take concrete steps towards a result oriented approach. The adoption of new and additional measures to address the unique and particular vulnerabilities of SIDS are required.
Along with the Pacific SIDS, we are advancing a proposal for Rio+20 to consider a Third Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS. We must build upon the momentum of Rio+20, to convene a Third Global Conference to refocus, and develop new and additional measures that are result oriented to support the sustainable development of SIDS.
Special Category for SIDS
A special category for Small Island Developing States is imperative if the United Nations is to improve the lot of the disadvantaged peoples in SIDS. After all, realities demand it. I therefore reiterate the call made last year by my own country and other Small Island Developing States for the creation of that special category.
I am grateful to the attention paid by the United Nations High-level Summit on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) earlier this week. It is a major concern for us in the Pacific SIDS that non-communicable disease has reached an epidemic proportion. If allowed to continue unabated, NCDs could potentially undermine our labor supply, productivity, investment and education with devastating consequences on our economic development.
I echoed the sentiments on NCDs expressed by Pacific leaders on the importance of immediate and decisive actions by governments, the private sector, civil society, regional and international organization and developments partners to work together to address what is now a "human social and economic crisis" for us in the Pacific.
At the beginning of this Session, we witnessed history of another kind unfolding in this Hall. For the first time, a female president stood at this podium to open the General Debate. I join other world leaders in congratulating Her Excellency Ms. Dilma Rousseff of Brazil for her many achievements.
The challenge for this Body is to continue to encourage women from all nations to participate on all levels of the political decision-making processes on an equal basis. After all, women are equal partners in families.
In joining the debate on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, my country urge the international community to remain steadfast in upholding the principles of peaceful co-existence as enshrined in the UN Charter. We continue to support Israel's right to live within secured and recognized borders free from fear of terrorism. We also acknowledge Palestine's right to statehood which can only be achieved through a negotiated settlement between the two parties. And I agree with President Obama that there are no shortcuts to solving this problem.
Just half way into the year, people everywhere are experiencing natural disasters making it the costliest on record. They have not only caused property damages but the loss of human lives. For that reason, I want to extend my people's sincere sympathies for the loss of lives and suffering everywhere.
And on the twentieth anniversary of my country's admission to the United Nations, we pledge to do our best to support the goals of this Organization for the benefit of our people and for the benefit of all peoples around the world.
Thank you, Mr. President.