FIJI and other small island states vulnerable to rising sea levels have an ally in New York City, an American jurisdiction that takes the threat of climate change very seriously.
This week a group of journalists heard from serving and former city officials the US$20 billion ($F37b) engineering strategy that has been adopted to ensure resilience against extreme and destructive climate change events.
The city bore the brunt of nature last year when Superstorm Sandy left behind destruction that generated economic losses of US$18 million ($F33m).
As speakers at a Disaster Management and Resiliency in the Asia Pacific Journalism Fellowship, the officials repeated what some scientists have been saying for years that the magnitude of the storm and the damage inflicted was indication of the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
In response to a question by The Fiji Times on whether New York's experience and status as the capital of the United Nations would raise the stakes for climate change discussion and bring attention to the plight of small island states vulnerable to rising sea levels, the officials said, "that's how it should be".
Seth Pinsky, who until recently was the NYC director special initiative for rebuilding and resiliency, said leaders needed to accept that climate change "is here" and Sandy served as a harbinger of future climate change impact.
"The dollar magnitude shows there's a real cost to inaction," he said.
"We have to start taking steps immediately to these challenges."
NYC, he said was taking steps to lower its carbon footprint. Of all states, New York has the least amount of carbon dioxide emissions per capita: 8.8 metric tonnes per person.
"We as a city can only do so much on our own. Nations are not doing what they should."
In June President Barak Obama called on Americans "to step up" and take action to protect future climate change. He also pledged to cut greenhouse gases 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's multi-billion climate defense plan includes the construction of levees, sand dunes and portable storm barriers.
Thaddeus Pawlowski, the urban designer adviser at the mayor's office of housing recovery said there should be more global discussion and in recognising that climate change had the potential to affect everyday life, the city has convened a panel on climate change.
He said "people should be talking" because there were other climate change related issues like rising temperatures and frequency of disease outbreak.
Sandy had left much of Manhattan in darkness, leaving thousands of homes inundated with water from storm surges.
Recently, small island country leaders including Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama lashed out at the inaction of the developed world in reducing carbon emissions. Fiji has suffered flooding events in the past years of a magnitude never before seen. Last year a Category Four storm wreaked havoc on western Viti Levu, leaving hundreds homeless and causing damage to thousands of homes.
Commodore Bainimarama has repeatedly said that industrialised countries should bear responsibility and pay for the costs of the causes of climate change. Small island countries, he said, were hard hit by natural calamities, from drought to floods, because of the greenhouse gases emitted by industrialised countries.
Last year US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton attended the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum as a strategy to draw attention to climate change. This year the top United Nations climate change envoy attended the PIF and although he did not attend the meeting, US Secretary of State John Kerry, via a video message, said the scientific evidence for climate change was irrefutable and alarming.