UN cheers for brave islander

NEW YORK – Before hundreds of world leaders at the United Nations in New York City Tuesday, Marshall Islander Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner delivered a memorable oration for climate action in the form of a poem to her daughter.

Her eloquent words and forceful delivery sparked the delegates to rise in the staid General Assembly hall for an extended ovation at the conclusion of her remarks that ended the opening ceremony of the UN’s Climate Summit. She was joined at the podium by her husband, Makerusa Porotesano, with their baby daughter, Matafele, in his arms.

She was wrapped in a jaki-ed, the finely woven traditional clothing mat that is a signature product of Marshall Islands weavers.

She said she was speaking not only as a Pacific islander but as a mother representing the world.

“The price of inaction is so high,” she said in her opening remarks. “It is mothers like me who are standing up (for climate action).” She asked world leaders to “take us along for your ride,” and promised, “we won’t slow you down”.

She then stepped down from the podium used by the previous speakers to a microphone specially set up for her performance of the poem to her daughter.