- What’s New in Oceania
Rapanui delegation at 12th Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam
(Sources: www.postguam.com and www.saipantribune.com)
According to the Guam Daily Post, Rapanui dancers were the “stars of the show” at the opening ceremonies of 12th Festival of Pacific Arts, or FestPac in Hagåtña Guam, on 22 May 2016. Although they were one of the smallest of the 27 delegations in attendance, the group of 30 Rapanui islanders was one of the most admired and photographed delegations. More than 2000 delegates participated in the event, whose theme was “What We Own, What We Have, What We Share, United Voices of the Pacific,” and is indicative of the efforts being taken to improve people’s respect and appreciation for diversity across the Pacific.
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Three Pacific island nations ratify Paris climate change agreement
(Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation, http://news.trust.org)
The Marshall Islands became the third country to ratify the Paris climate change agreement, following their neighbors Fiji and Palau, two other Pacific Island nations also highly vulnerable to the impacts of the changing climate. At U.N. climate talks in December, some 195 governments agreed to limit global temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times and to pursue efforts to keep it to 1.5 degrees. The Paris agreement, due to take effect in 2020, requires at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions to ratify it. “By becoming one of the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement, we have shown our determination to continue to lead this fight from the front,” said Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine. Small developing island states are already suffering [End Page 62] the impacts of climate change, including rising seas and extreme weather, causing them to push for more ambitious international efforts to reduce planet-warming emissions. The Marshall Islands were recently put on high alert for widespread flooding due to king tides. Meanwhile, the government has declared a state of disaster amid worsening drought conditions that could leave the capital, Majuro, without fresh water in less than three months’ time. The Marshallese parliament has recently approved the appointment of former foreign minister Tony de Brum as the country’s “Ambassador for Climate Change”. De Brum will lead the “High Ambition Coalition” that pushed for key elements of the Paris agreement, including the goal of keeping the temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees. The coalition is composed of a group of developed and developing countries including the European Union, the United States and Brazil, and crossed the rich-poor divide to help ensure that the Paris climate conference ended in success.