2 November 2021, COP26, Glasgow – The Palauan legend of Uab was told to world leaders during the high-level segment of COP26, a boy who grew into a giant that wouldn’t stop growing due to his unruly appetite, depleting all the natural resources before threatening to eat his people. 

It wasn’t until villagers banded together, took bold action and set Uab on fire, that they were saved.

His Excellency Surangel S. Whipps, Jr, President of Palau told world leaders that this was eerily reminiscent of today’s world.

“As large emitters with their insatiable appetite for advancement are continuing to abuse our environment, threatening our very survival.  COP26 must light the fire.”

“Excellencies, we must hold each other accountable; it is incumbent upon the parties of this convention to concentrate on radical action, consistent mobilisation, rational outcomes as such Palau expects the set of rules guiding the implementation of the Paris Agreement be finalised as a priority outcome of COP26.”

Addressing world leaders, President Whipps stressed that as Pacific Islanders, protectorates of the world’s largest ocean and carbon sink Palau established their national marine sanctuary in 2015, urging formal integration “of the ocean into the UNFCCC Process through the global stocktake as a fundamental priority outcome of COP26.”

Palau united with Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands to form the Micronesia Challenge in 2015 to conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.

This commitment was reaffirmed to the new Micronesia Challenge 2030 Goals announced in 2020 of at least 50% of marine resources and 30% of terrestrial resources across the region, and to be a voice for sustainability and climate change.

Climate finance was also a priority raised by President Whipps who called upon the Convention to establish equitable access to climate financing and viable technological transfer for both mitigation and adaptation.

“We the islands that are devastated most, demand that your commitments of 100 billion annually be increased to meet the four trillion dollars the world bank reports is needed with substantial shares of climate financing to support costly adaptation needs.”

Ending with the harsh reality facing the Pacific islands, on this current trajectory that is not closing the emissions gap, veering off the path to 1.5, President Whipps called for an end to the suffering.

“We see the scorching sun is giving us intolerable heat, the warming sea is invading us, the strong winds are blowing us every which way, our resources are disappearing before our eyes and our future is being robbed from us.”

“Frankly speaking, there is no dignity to a slow and painful death you might as well bomb our islands

instead of making us suffer only to witness our slow and fateful demise.”

President Whipps ended his statement referring to the Palauan legend of Uab, asking us to think of our future generations.

“Bold, unified action, led to transformation, we must act together, we owe this to each other, and we owe this to our children.”

President Whipps made his statement at the High-Level Segment to the Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) on 2 November.  COP26 is taking place in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November 2021.

To view the webcast of this session please visit: https://unfccc-cop26.streamworld.de/webcast/first-part-of-the-high-level-segment-for-heads-o-2.

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