Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, our gracious host, Dr. Il-Sik Hong, the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, together with distinguished excellencies and delegates who are present here this morning, president and members of the Universal Peace Federation, distinguished members of the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee, my colleague and co-recipient of the award, Dr. Modadugu Gupta, and of course my wife, who is here to join me on this occasion, friends, ladies and gentlemen, as is customary in my tradition, allow me to share with you our Kiribati traditional blessings ‘Kam na bane ni Mauri’ meaning ‘May you all be blessed.’
I wish to begin by taking a moment to pay very special tribute to the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon and to Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for their life-long mission and work, underpinned by the ultimate goal of achieving global peace for all.
Indeed had the global community embraced these visions of promoting reconciliation, coexistence and cooperation, the world would certainly be a much better place and a more peaceful place today.
I also wish to congratulate Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon together with the Chairman and the members of the Committee for this inaugural Sunhak Peace Prize Award Ceremony, an initiative of immense international significance in order to continue Rev. Moon's legacy of "One family under God." For my part, I am truly honored to be a co-recipient of this inaugural award, the Sunhak Peace Prize for 2015.
The last twelve years have been filled with a lot of challenges, starting from when my people elected me in 2003 to guide them towards a safe, secure and prosperous future.
Upon accepting that honor, I also accepted the responsibility that came with it, one of which is to ensure that their voices, their issues would be heard, especially within the international arena.
In receiving this most prestigious award, it is indeed my fervent hope that it will lend greater force to the urgency of the message which I have over the years been trying to communicate to the global community about this existential threat posted by climate change to the survival of future generations of my people and those in similar situations.
Climate change affects all of us in varying degrees of severity, but for my people and all those living in low-lying atoll islands, we are at the front line of this global calamity, with the very real possibility that our islands, our livelihoods, our homes, our identity as a people and as a culture may indeed cease to exist well within this century.
As leaders, we all have a duty to protect and safeguard those people for whom we are responsible. As parents and grandparents, it is only natural, and instinctive that we would do so with our lives if necessary, for those who rely on us for their security and I do believe it is the moral obligation of all humanity to ensure that all future generations be guaranteed a safe and secure future.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is against this background that I honour and acknowledge the most notable contribution of my fellow awardee Dr. Gupta, whose lifelong work will forever remain an inherent feature of the ongoing work on global food security.
It is an honour to be considered alongside a worthy fellow awardee, such as Dr. Gupta.
Let me also take this opportunity to acknowledge the one person who has supported and tolerated me throughout the years especially in those dire moments of frustration and despair when I felt a deep sense of futility that no one was listening to me.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to acknowledge my wife, Meme.
This award is as much for her as for all our dozen or so grandchildren, as well as those grandchildren whose voice we have tried to represent over the years.
For their sake, let us do what is right for them. In closing, let me share with you all our traditional blessings of “Te Mauri," "Te Raoi," and "Te Tabomoa," meaning health, peace, and prosperity be upon us all.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen.