Small island states may be the first to feel the impacts of climate change, but they will certainly not be the last. Abdulla Shahid, Minister for Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Maldives, speaks of the existential threat that climate change poses to small islands and reminds the international community that, should it fail to unite in this fight, the impacts of climate change will reach bigger, more developed countries.
"My country the Maldives is one of the frontline states in the fight against climate change. The sea level rise that is predicted is going to affect us in an existential manner. The entire life of our nation is dependent on the elements of nature. A
nd we as a people have been raising this issue at the United Nations, at the international fora since 1989. As a Small Island State we were the first to bring this issue when it was not fashionable to talk about environmental or climate change.
In 1989 we had high tidal waves hit our shores inundating many of the islands. And the government invited a number of Small Island States to come to the Maldives and we got together to form the Small Island States – the Alliance of Small Island States.
We are small but together our voice is great. Because today it is our turn to face the consequences. But if you do not raise the alarm, if you do not ring the bells loud enough today, if we do not raise our voice strong enough today: humanity itself is going to suffer. Today it is the turn of Small Island States, but tomorrow it will be the largest states that will face the consequences. And that is why we can face this issue only collectively."