“We have and will continue to protect and preserve this Earth, our one and only home.”
It is indeed an honour that I accept with the greatest humility this award on behalf of our future generations and the people of Kiribati, for it is on their behalf that I have waged this campaign to ensure a secure and safe future for our children, our grandchildren and their children.
This award from an organization outside the formal authority of the United Nations (UN) sends a very positive signal that there are those in this global community who are as equally committed to finding a solution to a globally destabilizing threat such as climate change.
It has not been a journey without challenges. I remember the time when I used to talk about climate change and being faced with the challenge of not being taken seriously and at times having to justify my concerns against scientific and expert opinions skeptical about climate change. However, more recently, science and the world at large are coming together with the underlying message that climate change is a reality and that there are no other options but to work together as a global community to address this calamity. It has indeed been very gratifying to witness such a momentous and positive change with particular credit to the strong stewardship of my fellow leaders.
Kiribati, is but a small nation, nevertheless, we are as much part of the global community as any other nation and we have and will continue to protect and preserve this Earth, our one and only home. This award complements and enhances the voice of my people and those at the frontline of climate change with the underlying message that the fate of small island states captures the essence of what global warming might mean at its most severe. The urgency now is in translating such global support to tangible benefits on the ground into action.
Again, I am very humbled and honoured to have been considered as one of the first recipients of the award particularly with a very worthy fellow awardee, Dr. Modadugu Vijay Gupta, whose work will go a long way towards strengthening global food security for all humanity. It is my sincere hope that this award will signal a path towards greater global peace and security for all.
June 8, 2015