The bad effect of climate change is not a fairy tale but an on-the-ground reality, the Solomon Islands told the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Poland Saturday.

"On a daily basis, we are experiencing coastal erosions, we are fighting sea level rise and we are drinking brackish water," said Rence Sore, the Solomon Islands' Permanent Secretary of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology.

"Our gardens are producing less food and our seas are supplying us with less fish. We are taking insufficient protein and energy food is becoming scarce," he said.

Mr. Sore delivered his country's statement to the ministerial plenary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the Polish city of Poznan as the country's environment minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, was unable to attend due to ill health.

In his place, Mr. Sore told the world conference that combating climate change is the responsibility of both developed and developing countries.

Mr. Sore said his government is bracing to handle environmental refugees as some smaller islands in his country are feeling the adverse impact of stronger sea surges and saltwater intrusion.

"In atoll islands of Ontong Java, in Solomon Islands, swamp taro is a staple food. It is unfortunate that sea-level rise is not only contaminating the sweetness of swamp taro but also affecting its growth thus exacerbating human vulnerability and increasing the risk of disaster among atoll islanders In the not-too-distant future the fight for access to scarce resources would increase the likelihood of migration," Mr. Sore warned.

For its part, Mr. Sore said his government has launched its seven-point national adaptation program of action (NAPA) on climate change.
Sectors covered include agriculture, waste management, coast protection, fisheries, infrastructure and tourism.

The environmental secretary repeated the complaints of many Least Developed Countries at the conference about the delay in the disbursement of adaptation funds.

"The LDC Fund is very important to us and has given us high expectations -- we need to speedily act on NAPA implementation," said Mr. Sore.

"With the support of parties to the convention I am confident that the 'specific needs and special situations' of small islands states, like Solomon Islands, is not overlooked in our negotiations."

Mr. Sore was one of two Solomon Islanders to address the ministerial plenary of the UN climate change talks as the conference concluded here today. The other speaker was Pacific youth representative, Leah Wickham.

Negotiations will continue between now and the next UN conference in Copenhagen in December 2009, where the world hopes to sign a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.

Source: Samasoni Pareti, Pacific Magazine