Anote Tong, the former President of Kiribati and a prominent advocate for urgent global action on climate change, is visiting Australia this month as a guest of the Pacific Calling Partnership to speak at a number of public events about the challenges facing Kiribati, Australia’s responsibility to tackle the climate crisis, and his vision for a more just and sustainable future.
Among his engagements, Mr Tong, who served as President of Kiribati from 2003 until 2016, will deliver a public address at the Good Samaritan Sisters’ Congregational Centre in Glebe, Sydney, on October 25.
MC for the evening will be Good Samaritan Sister Geraldine Kearney, a founding member of the Pacific Calling Partnership, a collective of organisations and individuals concerned about the serious threat that climate change poses on low-lying island countries in the Pacific.
Geraldine has lived in Kiribati and spent the last several years educating people in Australia and throughout the world about the impacts of climate change on low-lying island nations. Through this work she has experienced first-hand Mr Tong’s campaigning for climate justice for his people and the peoples of the Pacific.
Geraldine said the Pacific Calling Partnership was keen to bring Mr Tong to Australia now in an effort to change the terms of the climate change debate in Australia.
“Mr Tong is renowned for his role in building awareness of the impacts of climate change in the Pacific. Tong’s visit will create greater awareness of the urgent need for stronger action from the international community, and notably Australia,” she said.
Geraldine noted that Mr Tong’s visit, soon after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on global warming, is timely.
“He has played a critical role in the United Nations’ conferences on climate change, especially at COP 21 in Paris, and now, in the wake of the IPCC’s findings, Tong’s voice will resonate with and echo other Pacific island leaders who are on mission to challenge the Australian Government’s response, or lack of response, to find a solution to combat rising sea levels,” she said.
“The timing of Tong’s visit is opportune. [The October 8] IPCC report, in which the world’s top scientists recommended Australia and the rest of the world would need to give up coal within just 22 years to help avoid the worst effects of climate change, is a stark wake-up-and-act call to all of us.
“It predicts that even a half degree of extra warming will affect hundreds of millions of people – not least Australia’s many low-lying Pacific neighbours.”
Geraldine said the response to the Glebe event with Mr Tong had been “overwhelming”. She said tickets for the free event had already booked out and those applying now would be placed on a waiting list.
“I am excited and confident that Anote’s visit to Australia will raise greater awareness of the impact of climate change on these our neighbours, and our moral obligation to listen to their voices and act in solidarity with them and for them,” she said.
“Tong will bring the human face of not only his people, but of the other low-lying nations… Hopefully this visit will have some impact on our leaders in government and open their eyes and hearts to the urgency to act now in a positive response to the IPCC’s findings and set reasonable targets.”
Mr Tong’s public address on October 25 at Glebe is being organised by the Inter-Congregational Voice on Climate Change and hosted by the Good Samaritan Sisters.
An initiative of the Pacific Calling Partnership, the Inter-Congregational Voice on Climate Change is a group of Catholic religious congregations with historical and ongoing involvement among peoples in Pacific island nations in the areas of education, health, community development and climate justice.
The Good Samaritan Sisters are members of both these groups and have a strong commitment to the Pacific, especially in Kiribati, where they have been present for over 25 years. From small beginnings, with the arrival of just one sister in 1991, there are today two communities of Good Samaritan Sisters engaged in a variety of educational, pastoral and community development ministries in Kiribati.
Events with Anote Tong in Australia include:
FACEBOOK LIVE EVENT www.facebook.com/CaritasAU
Date: October 19, 2018
Time: 1:00pm – 2:00pm (AEST)
In this Facebook Live Event, hear Anote Tong talk about the impacts of climate change in Kiribati and the Pacific, and the urgent need for stronger climate action. You can also ask him questions during the event by typing in the comments section.
Jointly hosted by: Caritas Australia, Pacific Calling Partnership and Catholic Earthcare
“Views from the climate frontline: An evening with Anote Tong”
Date: October 22, 2018, 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Venue: University of Melbourne, Basement Theatre, Melbourne School of Design Masson Road, Parkville
Jointly hosted by: The Climate Reality Project, Oxfam Australia, Pacific Calling Partnership and Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute
Bookings and more details here
“Why island nations’ isolation on the climate change threat must end”
Date: October 24, 2018, 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Venue: Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium, John Hopkins Drive, University of Sydney
Organised by: Sydney Environment Institute and Pacific Calling Partnership
Booking and more details here
“Rising seas: climate change and the Pacific”
Date: October 25, 2018, 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Venue: Good Samaritan Sisters’ Congregational Centre, Function Room, 2 Avenue Road Glebe
Organised by: Inter-Congregational Voice on Climate Change in the Pacific
Bookings and more details here