47th UN General Assembly
2nd Committee

New York, 6 November 1992

Mr. Chairman,

These remarks will be very brief, but in brevity I do not wish to indicate any diminishment of concern or feeling of complacency on the part of the Federated States of Micronesia toward the subject of climate change and sea level rise. These concerns are deeply held.

We are grateful for the Secretary-General’s report and for the excellent introductions given on Wednesday. We agree fully with the calls by many speakers for immediate implementation of the Climate Change Convention and on the whole with the structural and procedural recommendations in that regard already voiced. Thus, we will not here repeat them, but would add that the mechanisms of the Convention must be established with due regard for the difficulties that small delegations from developing countries encounter attempting to participate in enterprises of this magnitude, especially when meetings are held far away from our capitals or established missions. That factor simply cannot be swept aside in the case of this Convention, because if it is to succeed with its purpose, small developing countries must participate closely and regularly in the work.

Because of the compassion and open-mindedness already shown by the leadership and indeed all delegates to the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change, it is not necessary for me again to describe the exposed situation of low-lying small island states such as the Federated States of Micronesia in respect of rising sea levels and destructive weather patterns. We need therefore only to refer with gratitude to the dedicated efforts of so many that resulted in the inclusion within this crucial Convention a number of provisions specifically aimed at the concerns we and other small island states had expressed. Here, naturally, we must give special thanks to the eminent Chairman of the I.N.C., Mr. Jean Ripert, to Mr. Michael Zammit-Cutajar and the entire Secretariat of I.N.C., to the members of the Bureau, and not least, to the I.P.C.C.

I am happy to report that the processes of the Federated States of Micronesia for ratification of the Framework Convention oil Climate Change are very near completion. We do call upon all signatories to make this a priority of their government, so that full implementation of the Convention can proceed as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, some may still not take very seriously the threat of sea level rise, because the phenomenon does occur very gradually and at rates that are variable under differing conditions. It is fail to say here, though, that as science learns more about this phenomenon, the problem seems increasingly more immediate than had been supposed. As an example, a recent study of Antarctic fossil strata by New Zealand scientists at the Victoria University of Wellington was just published in the British journal, Nature, suggesting that disastrous meltdowns of polar icecaps could begin to occur within more narrow ranges of temperature change than has been supposed. Should this come to pass, sea levels certainly would rise faster and to a greater extent than any study had suggested at the time of the Rio Conference. Thus, Mr. Chairman, though we realize that scientists will continue to debate the accuracy of various scenarios, we fear even more strongly with each passing month that time is not on the side of small island states, or of the World. The Precautionary Principle must guide the parties to the Climate Change Convention in pursuing its objective.

We all know that tire Framework Convention itself represents only a start in dealing with the various threats of human-induced climate change. Many, including the Federated States of Micronesia, had hoped the Convention would start out with more teeth. But regardless, the Convention still can become an effective instrument depending on the manner and speed of its implementation, and if the actions of the parties in years to come give life to the principles and generalities of the Framework. The delegation of the Federated States of Micronesia supports the Convention and all pending proposals designed to sustain the momentum of its process. We intend to participate in its work to the limit of our resources and ability.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, the Federated States of Micronesia welcomes and fully supports the call for an I.N.C. devoted to combating desertification and drought. It became obvious in the climate change negotiations that these monumental problems, already being experienced, could not be adequately addressed in that forum. Thus, we call for an early decision to constitute a new I.N.C. for this purpose, hoping also that the natural linkages between all climate-related efforts will produce the natural cooperation that should occur. We pray that the I.N.C. on desertification and drought can be supported with a proper sense of the priority that such grave, ongoing human suffering deserves.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.