Islands Business Report: Big new interest in the islands as 2012 dawns

Two forces are driving the perception that is being increasingly grasped by Pacific islands elites—that the international community is back, taking a big new interest in the region as 2012 dawns.

The first is being driven by anxiety about the impact of climate change.

It has been reinforced especially by the attendance of global movers and shakers at meetings in the region, enabling them to visit en route, islands nations that would otherwise never have attracted so much attention.

The Pacific Islands Forum attracted a grander lineup of global talent than ever this year, including leaders from Europe, the US and Asia.

Its meetings now handily kick off the increasingly onerous annual end-of-the-year summit season that consumes hosts of initials and acronyms  including ASEAN’s East Asia Summit, APEC, CHOGM, G20 and the UN General Assembly annual sessions
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for instance, visited Kiribati en route to the Forum summit in Auckland in September.

He said after his trip to Tarawa: “Climate change is not about tomorrow. It is lapping at our feet—quite literally in Kiribati and elsewhere. I have watched the high tide impacting those villages. The high tide shows it is high time to act.”

The first UN head to attend a Forum summit, he said: “The countries of the Pacific are at the front of the frontline on climate change” and that he will “sound a global alarm” about the threat to the region.


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