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The Department of Pacific Affairs was honoured to contribute to the organisation of a talk by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu Rt Hon Enele Sosene Sopoaga to Pacific Island students at ANU. Hosted by the ANU Pasifika Student Society, and the ANU Postgraduate Research Students’ Association, the event held in the evening of 3 December featured a traditional Tuvalu welcome dance, and a speech by the ANU Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt.
The Prime Minister, who was in Canberra for talks with the Australian Government on its ‘Pacific pivot’, spoke mostly about his country’s campaign for action on climate change. Mr Sopoaga became an internationally well-known advocate for action on climate change at the time of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
The Prime Minister pointed out that at a certain point, for his country which is made up of low lying atolls, mitigation of the effects of climate change will not be an option, as the country may disappear into the sea. The Prime Minister however was clear that in campaigning for stronger action on climate change he was not just campaigning for his own country’s interests, but for the interests of the whole world.
The Prime Minister later spoke to ANU’s Climate Change Institute on a similar theme. Later, the Prime Minister and his delegation, including the Australian High Commissioner to Tuvalu accepted an invitation by the Pasifika Student Society to a Pasifika dinner. Also present at the dinner were members of the various Pacific diaspora. The dinner also acknowledged the work of DPA and Pasifika Australia in their pastoral care of students in ANU, where around twenty Pacific students who will graduate next week were acknowledged.