BRISBANE, 08 NOVEMBER 2021 (SBS/REUTERS) — With hundreds of speakers on the running order, it’s going to take a lot to make your message stand out at the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit.
So the Pacific nation of Tuvalu took an innovative approach last week to express the dangers it faces due to the effects of the climate crisis – and it’s gone viral on social media.
In a pre-recorded statement shot by Tuvalu public broadcaster TVBC, Foreign Minister Simon Kofe addressed cameras while knee-deep in the ocean to highlight the sea level rises affecting Pacific nations such as his.
The video will be played on Tuesday in Glasgow as part of the Pacific Climate Change Mobility and Human Security side event at COP26.
“The statement juxtaposes the COP26 setting with the real-life situations faced in Tuvalu due to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise and highlights the bold action Tuvalu is taking to address the very pressing issues of human mobility under climate change,” Tuvalu’s Ministry of Justice said in a statement.
Photos of the film shoot received widespread attention and praise on social media.
“No expensive flights and entourage, and no expensive PR to express a powerful message,” one commenter on Facebook remarked.
A post by Fijian journalist Anish Chand of the images as of Sunday had received more than 29,000 likes on Twitter.
The video has also drawn comparisons to a 2009 demonstration by the government of the Maldives, which held a cabinet meeting underwater in scuba gear to show the dangers of rising sea levels.
The risk posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging for Pacific representatives to attend the COP26 summit in person. Only three leaders from the fourteen nations have travelled to Glasgow to make speeches.
“It has been a huge challenge,” Seve Paeniu, finance minister of Tuvalu, told Reuters this week.
He said it was the first time he had left the low-lying nation of about 12,000 people in almost two years.
A speech from young Samoan climate activist Brianna Fruean also went viral on social media earlier this week.
Fruean told delegates young Pacific islanders have been hard at work pushing for greater climate action from world leaders.
“We are not just victims to this crisis. We have been resilient beacons of hope. Pacific youth have rallied behind the cry: ‘We are not drowning. We are fighting’,” she said…. PACNEWS