Q&A with Erietera Aram: Insights from COP23

16 Nov 17

Earlier this month, Kiribati climate activist Erietera Aram visited Australia to launch the Caritas State of the Environment report and raise awareness of the threat of climate change in the Pacific.

Erietera then travelled to Germany for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23), where he had been busy advocating for stronger climate action from leaders around the world, as a delegate of the Pacific Calling Partnership. Here is some insight into his experience at the conference.

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Erietera with other representatives at COP23. Photo: Caritas Australia

Erietera with other representatives at COP23. Photo: Caritas Australia

At COP23, what opportunities are there for representatives from small island states, like yourself, to speak and be heard?

The biggest opportunity for us, as small island representatives, is getting connected to different people with different areas of study and expertise on climate change. The other thing is that we get to talk to these people and I believe that this is how we strengthen each other at the community level and other levels beneath our leaders. This way we can push together so COP23 outcomes will meet our expectations. Being able to share stories in some events.

What is your message to decision-makers at COP23?  What do you want them to know?

Climate is here with us now and there is an urgent need to act upon our struggles as international communities, especially low lying atolls and islands.

What things have you heard, seen or learnt at COP23 that really stand out as highlights for you so far?

That young people are so active to protect their future. Leaders, organisations with their continuous fight and support to islands who are mostly threatened by climate change.

What kind of opportunities are there for you to meet and talk to other NGO climate activists?  Is that useful?

This is very useful. I get to expose myself to their areas of interest particularly on adaptation and loss and damage concept. Being connected with open-hearted offers to assist in whatever they can. This is amazing!

What are your top overall impressions of COP23 so far?

I am impressed by the work of communities, NGOs and other climate activists. They don’t stop and their work is actually looking at the future, which is good; how they work together to combat climate change!

Watch Erietera speak about climate change and Kiribati on ABC News 24: