Rising sea levels threaten South Pacific island states – Cuba

Picture: RNZ

YAREN, 06 SEPTEMBER 2018 (THE MAST ONLINE) – Cuba says some small island states of the South Pacific are facing the actual danger of disappearing because of the sea level rise brought about by climate change.

Ministry of Foreign Relations director of the Asia and Oceania Division Alberto Blanco Silva said Cuba desired to continue finding ways to establish triangular cooperation with New Zealand, Australia and other interested international actors for the benefit of South Pacific Islands.

Blanco, in announcing Cuba’s participation at the 49th Pacific Islands Meeting said Havana was attending under Dialogue Partners status.

“We actually have many aspects in common: we are small island states facing the challenges posed by climate change, and the unjust and unequal world in which we are supposed to develop; these circumstances are worsened by the fact that the major world power is strengthening protectionism and has forsaken cooperation and understanding as the possible solutions to the most pressing problems affecting human kind,” he said, according to the ministry’s posting.

Blanco said Cuba had raised its voice more than once to defend the rights of developing countries, in particular of small island states, which run the risk of being buried underwater as a result of climate change.

“Cuba defends the adherence to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, which implies that developed countries should take the leadership of global efforts aimed at mitigating climate change, and provide the funding, technologies, and means of implementation needed by developing countries, especially small island states, to carry out adaptation and mitigation actions,” he said. “It is alarming to find out that some small island states of the South Pacific are facing the actual danger of disappearing because of the sea level rise brought about by climate change.”

Blanco said Cuba had approved a state plan to cope with the effects of climate change known as ‘Tarea Vida’.

He said Tarea Vida was an ambitious strategy to deal with vulnerabilities and enhance Cuba’s resilience to extreme weather events, sea level rise, the shortage of drinking water, and seawater intrusion, among others, as well as to promote the development of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable development.

“We want to share this strategy with the small island states of the South Pacific, which cannot and should not be put aside,” Blanco said. “The small island states of the South Pacific will always count on the deep-felt friendship, the esteem and the full support of their Cuban brothers.”

He said cooperation between Cuba and the Pacific Islands had actually become a good example of South-South cooperation.

Blanco said Cuba had diplomatic relations with the 14 small island states of the South Pacific. He said in May 2017, Cuba opened its diplomatic mission in Suva, Fiji, with concurrent accreditation to 11 Pacific Islands.

“Additionally, we have medical brigades in Kiribati and Vanuatu, and we are sending a new medical brigade to Nauru in response to the request made by the Nauruan government. We are pleased to inform that 101 young Pacific Islanders are being trained in Cuban universities, and 153 have already graduated in Cuba in recent years, including 151 that graduated from medicine,” Blanco said.

“Once again we have demonstrated the spirit of solidarity that characterizes our noble and generous people, particularly in our relations with small island states. I seize this opportunity to mention that we want to make progress with regards to the treatment of diabetes, which is highly prevalent in the South Pacific, by using the well-known, effective, and unique Cuban medicine Heberprot-P.”

Blanco said together with the vast majority of the international community, “all the small island states of the South Pacific, with one voice and without a single exception, are voting as a unified group for the lifting of the unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, which implies defending a small island state’s right to development.”

Deputy foreign minister Rogelio Sierra Díaz is heading Cuba’s delegation at the 49th Pacific Islands Forum Meeting in the Republic of Nauru.

The meeting is the most important event of the Pacific gathering 14 small island states, as well as observers and dialogue partners; the latter is the status Cuba has since 2013. This annual meeting is aimed at harmonizing the positions of the Pacific member nations on issues as important as economic matters and cooperation, and the actions to be taken to soften the effects of climate change and prevent and mitigate climate disasters.

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