September 22, 2008 – "Climate Change: the Human Dimension"
President Anote Tong, President of Kiribati
Anote Tong was born in 1952 on the island of Maiana, in central Kiribati. After completing high-school at St Bede's College, in Christchurch, New Zealand he studied for a Bacelor of Science at New Zealand's Canterbury University and then later completed a Masters in Economics from the prestigious London School of Economics in the United Kingdom.
President Tong is married to an I-Kiribati woman, First Lady Nei Meme, and has seven children and ten grandchildren. He was first elected president in 2003, and was subsequently re-elected in 2007 and in 2012. As the Constititution of Kiribati limits the the holding of office of President to three terms, President Tong's final term four-year term as President will end in July 2015.
Since coming to office as Kiribati's 'Beretitenti' or 'President' Anote Tong - whilst also undetaking the cabinet role of his nation's foreign-minister - has defined a key responsibility of his leadership to be raising within all international fora the circumstances of climate change circumstances that confront his people, their culture and the peoples and cultures of other climate-vulnerable low-lying populations. His special concern has been to not allow the developed nations - whose the elevated levels of consumption have most contributed to anthropomorphic climate change - to escape their responsibility for the damage these green-house gas emissions continue to cause in places like Kiribati - where those who have least contributed to climate change are forced to pay the highest price for its impact.
President Tong's calls for the world's attention to the plight of his people have resounded within the General Assembly of the United Nations on eight occassions - within the annual program of addresses from world leaders. He has repeated these calls within many of the annual 'negotiation' summits for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - Conference of the Parts 'UNFCCC - COP'.
Within these international circles President Tong has also sought to bring the influence and authority of his office as a national leader to establish and fortify alliances and lobbying bloques of nations with similar concerns - including the Pacific Islands Forum; the Association fo Small Island States (AOSIS); the Forum of Small Island Developing States (SIDS); and the Climate Vulnerable Forum - http://www.the cvf.org .