- Anote Tong
- Former President of Kiribati
His Excellency Anote Tong, the President of Kiribati, is a global leader whose dedication and passionate leadership helped to bring about a consensus by the international community concerning climate peace.
He has contributed greatly to raising public awareness of international community about the severe impacts of the climate crisis and dedicated himself to addressing the impacts of climate change on Kiribati, which is gradually being submerged due to rising sea-levels caused by climate change. Also, he worked for the rights of climate refugees to ensure that Kiribati’s citizens who are at risk of becoming climate refugees will be able to keep their dignity if they are forced to migrate. Furthermore, he is leading the cause to designate a large part of the Pacific region as an environmentally protected area, while forgoing immediate financial benefits of his country for the climate peace of future generations.
Led the international community to act on climate change
His Excellency Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, actively informed the international community about the climate crisis facing low-lying Pacific small island states due to rising sea levels and led the international community to cooperatively embark on addressing the issue together. Even though immediate assistance and cooperation was needed from the international community to achieve climate peace for the future generations by reducing carbon emissions and adjusting negative developments that threaten the environment, conflicting interests among countries made for a sluggish show of pace.
Thus, Pres. Tong invited world delegates to Kiribati and held the Tarawa Climate Change Conference (TCCC) on November 12, 2010, during which the Ambo Declaration was adopted. The declaration is an 18-point resolution calling upon major economic countries including China and vulnerable nations to address the causes and adverse impacts of climate change by embarking upon immediate and concrete action. This agreement between the nations was presented at the larger international climate change summit, UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) COP (Conference of Parties) 16 in Cancun, Mexico, and became the basis for the economically developed countries to support countries such as Kiribati that are vulnerable to climate change.
Led the protection of marine ecosystems by sacrificing his country’s interests
To protect the ocean from pollution caused by human greed and lack of restrain, Pres. Tong put down his country’s immediate gains to protect the marine ecosystem. He led the world’s largest marine protection and ocean management initiatives by area in the designation of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area and the Pacific Oceanscape Network Initiative among others and is leading the effort to conserve the Pacific Rim as a resource repository for future generations and a basis for peace.
Pres. Tong’s efforts to conserve the Pacific Rim began with giving up Kiribati’s realistic profits. In 2006, he worked with Conservation International (CI) and New England Aquarium to create the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), encompassing some of the most pristine and coral-rich waters on the planet. Upon its full legal establishment in 2008, PIPA was expanded to include more than 400,000km² of ocean prohibiting fishing and other exploitation, making it the world’s largest marine protected area at the time. Two years later, PIPA was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area’s rich biodiversity includes an abundance of healthy corals, big sharks, groupers, tuna, giant clams and other marine animals that have been depleted in much of the rest of the world. The Phoenix Islands was a major source of revenue for the people of Kiribati with its beautiful environment and rich species of fish. Therefore, prohibiting fishing activities and conserving the area also meant a significant negative impact on Kiribati’s economy. Despite this, Pres. Tong passed a law prohibiting all commercial fishing within the Phoenix Islands Protected Area explaining that, “These efforts are a significant contribution to the world community in the hope that they would also act.”
Going further, Pres. Tong conceived the Pacific Oceanscape framework, an unprecedented effort among 23 Pacific island nations to collaboratively and sustainably protect, manage, and sustain nearly 40 million km² of ocean. The Pacific Oceanscape concept was introduced to the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009. The Framework for the cooperative stewardship of their combined ocean territories was presented a year later, receiving unanimous endorsement by the heads of state and governments of 15 participating nations. Together, the nations of the Pacific Oceanscape have responsibility for some 10% of the world’s ocean surface, an area four times the size of the United States.
Committed to ensuring the dignity of human rights for climate refugees
Pres. Tong has devoted a significant amount of his energy into defending the human rights of his citizens and contributed greatly towards building awareness among the international community on the protection of human rights for climate refugees.
He is establishing a systematic migration policy so that his country’s citizens, who will be forced to leave Kiribati within the next 30 years due to rising sea levels submerging their country, can migrate with their dignity intact. He has worked diligently to secure funds to buy land for the resettlement and purchased 24.28 million m² of land in Fiji and is also running the migration with dignity vocational education program so that they can be received as migrants who can add value to the work-force with competitiveness and marketability rather than refugees. Even as hope seemed to diminish for Kiribati’s citizens faced with the possibility of losing their homes due to climate change, Pres. Tong’s warm love for humanity shone brightly as he strove to safeguard human dignity through various vocational and language training programs.
These efforts by Pres. Tong contributed to urging the international community for greater cooperation to protect the human rights of climate refugees and address the issue of climate induced migration.
- June 11, 1952
- Republic of Kiribati
- Awarded for
1971 - 1974 University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
1987 - 1988 Master of Science (Economics), LSE University of London, UK
1974 - 1976 Assistant Secretary (Development), Economic Planning Office, Ministry of Finance
1976 - 1977 Senior Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Education
1978 Director of Economic Planning, Ministry of Economic Planning
1978 - 1980 Project Officer, South Pacific Bureau for Economic Cooperation (SPEC)
1980 - 1982 Secretary for the Ministry of Communications & Works
1982 - 1983 Secretary for the Ministry of Natural Resources Development
1983 - 1992 Director, Atoll Research and Development Unit, University for the South Pacific (USP)
1993 - 1994 Administrative Secretary, Pacific Air-Services Alliance Corp (PASA)
1994 Elected Member of Parliament for Maiana
1994 - 1996 Minister of Natural Resources Development
1996 - 2003 Member of Parliament (Boutokaan Te Koaua party)
2003 Elected President of Kiribati
2007 Re-elected President of Kiribati
2008 David B. Stone Award (New England Aquarium Foundation)
2009 Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon (President of Taiwan)
2009 Medal of Honour (Speaker of the Legislative Yuan)
2012 Peter Benchley Ocean Award (Blue Frontier Campaign)
2012 Hillary Award (Hilary Institute of International Leadership)
- Planning & Editing
- Sunhak Peace Prize Secretariat
- Publishing House
- MIRAE BOOK
- February 1, 2016
- Table of Contents
Anote Tong’s climate peace activities
Born in beautiful Kiribati
Island countries at risk of disappearing from the world map
Global warming, the main cause of sea level rise
The Copenhagen Climate Conference ends in failure
Holding the Tarawa Climate Change Conference
Leading the international community to agreement at the Cancun Conference
Pursuing “Migration with Dignity”
Giving up self-interests and protecting the ocean environment
Addressing the issue of climate change