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Earth Day 2016

Blog

Graeme Byrd's thoughts, stories and adventures. Lessons from life.

Earth Day 2016

Graeme Byrd

 Port Vila, Vanuatu. January 2016.

Port Vila, Vanuatu. January 2016.

Every Earth Day I'm reminded of the great work of many people and organizations who are committed every day of the year to protect the environment and build a sustainable society. This year I think about the island nations that are experiencing the impacts of the rising sea level and climate change on their communities. Having been in Vanuatu (one of the sinking countries) a few months ago I saw the impact Cyclone Pam (from 9 months before) had on the people as they rebuild. And then just two months ago Fiji was slammed by Tropical Cyclone Winston (one of the biggest cyclone ever to make landfall in the southern hemisphere).

On this #EarthDay, 170+ nations get together in New York City to show their commitment to addressing the rising temperates by signing the Paris Agreement (COP21). This is an important step, but it is only a step in the journey of addressing Climate Change. As the Prime Minister of Fiji said when wrapping up his speech at the UN:

"I want to end with the most urgent of pleas to the global community and especially the industrialised countries on behalf of every Fijian and every citizen of small and vulnerable developing states everywhere...we will sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and I will also have the pleasure of depositing the ratification documents for Fiji. It is a positive first step but not nearly enough to avert catastrophe for many vulnerable states and economies. We need to do more."

Countries like Fiji (which is the first country to ratify the Agreement) reconzie that “unless we can overcome the challenge that climate change poses, there is little hope of countries like Fiji meeting their Sustainable Development Goals.”

Today is a reminder to every country, very business, every citizen - we need to do more.