NEW YORK, 23 September 2010 – Sir Richard Branson joined the Pacific Islands on the eve of the UN general debate to call for ambitious action on climate change. "Small island nations are at the front line in our war on climate. They have so much to lose through no fault of their own," said Branson, the successful British entrepreneur who has founded numerous companies including Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic Airways.
Richard Branson delivered his remarks at a reception hosted yesterday evening by the President of the Republic of Nauru, Marcus Stephen, on behalf of a bloc of 11 countries known as the Pacific Small Island Developing States. Branson highlighted the damage ocean acidification and higher temperatures are wreaking on coral reefs putting ecosystems in the Pacific at risk and damaging the tourism and fishing industries that islands depend on.
President Stephen identified the climate change negotiations in Cancun later this year as an opportunity to improve the future prospects for countries vulnerable to climate change, "Climate change is the single greatest threat to global prosperity. For many small islands, it threatens our very existence."
Branson said climate change policy needs to be complemented by changes in the business sector and reinventing economic systems. His Carbon War Room is looking at ways to help islands create a road map for low carbon development.
Stephen described how the same economic and political systems that have brought great wealth to some have failed to improve the lives of many others. Many countries still have to grapple with the challenges of failed crops and inability to cure common illnesses, but also now deal more recent challenges of global commodity prices, financial speculation, and the impacts of carbon pollution. President Stephen welcomed Branson's commitment to engaging with small islands.
The Pacific SIDS have been actively campaigning at the United Nations on the issue of climate change and hosted a similar reception in September last year. President Stephen stated "Hosting this reception provides the Pacific an opportunity to talk directly with leaders from the high greenhouse gas emitting countries and put a human face on the climate crisis. We cannot wait for them to act on their own accord. We must actively tell our story if we are to have a realistic prospect of ensuring a future for our islands."
The reception was attended by Heads of State and Government and Ministers from around the world.
The Pacific SIDS comprises the missions of Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The current Chair of the Pacific SIDS is Nauru.
Ms Teall Crossen
Legal Adviser, Permanent Mission of Nauru to the United Nations
email@example.com, + 1 212 518 7047