By Radio New Zealand
Tonga’s King has addressed the General Debate in the 74th Session at the United Nations in New York, appealing for protection of his people from a range of threats to peace.
King Tupou VI thanked the Secretary General Antonio Guterres for his inaugural visit to the Pacific in May, to understand the climate crisis up close.
He commended the UN session’s four priorities of; peace and security especially conflict prevention; stronger action on climate change; accentuating human rights for women and young people, and boosting the Sustainable Development Goals.
The King also expressed his gratitude for a more inclusive attitude by the UN towards small island states strengthening their voices.
“We continue to look to the Security Council to protect the innocent from threats to international peace and security in whatever form.
“Be they traditional threats such as armed conflict, or newer threats like climate change and sea level rise, and health epidemics, to ensure that no one is left behind.”
The King said securing climate finance is a priority.
He welcomed plans by the United Kingdom to double it’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund.
The King said Pacific leaders in Tuvalu last month endorsed the strongest statement to date on climate change, the Kainaki II Declaration, declared a climate change crisis in the Pacific Islands Region.
It called for urgent action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to prevent catastrophic global warming and disasters.
King Tupou VI said extreme events like cyclones and typhoons, flooding, drought and king tides are frequently more intense inflicting damage and destruction to Tonga’s communities and ecosystems, putting people’s health at risk.
He acknowledged the recent destruction in the Bahamas and said climate change is not only a political issue for Tonga, it is a matter of survival.