News / Asia

Pacific Forum Tackles Climate Change, Major Powers

The island Rarotonga of the Cook Islands.The island Rarotonga of the Cook Islands.
x
The island Rarotonga of the Cook Islands.
The island Rarotonga of the Cook Islands.
Luke Hunt
RAROTONGA, Cook Island — In the Cook Islands the annual Pacific Islands Forum is about to get underway with climate change, trade and regional security expected to top the agenda as major powers vie for influence over a range of issues.

Forum

The Forum brings together 16 isolated states from the South Pacific.  A further 41 countries are sending delegations, including China, which has sought to expand its role in the region, where Taiwan has diplomatic recognition from a handful of countries.

The Russians have also had mixed success here in winning support.  And in the past year, Washington has signaled a renewed emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, deepening economic and security ties.

Highlighting the growing importance of the forum is the much anticipated arrival of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later in the week.

Clinton’s office has yet to confirm whether she will head the United States delegation but preparations are in place for what locals say would be the most important diplomatic visit since Britain’s Queen Elizabeth came to the Cook Islands in 1974.

Climate change, boundary agreements

Derek Fox, spokesman for the Forum, says two upcoming votes for non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council will add another layer to lobbying among delegates.

“Chinese have a big interest in the Pacific and that’s probably why the Americans are starting to show an interest again now.  And there are other agencies like the UN and the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and countries quite distant from here who are showing an interest," said Fox. "There’s an Israeli group coming and there is a Taiwanese delegation here.”

Fox says other issues include climate change and management of the Pacific Ocean, with announcements expected on a new marine park, boundary agreements and foreign aid packages.

For countries like Tuvalu, where the highest point is just 4.6 meters above sea level, aid for coping with climate change is fundamental. Many here believe climate change has also contributed to shifts in tidal patterns that have resulted in erosion of the islands.

Kora Kora, is a local politician and former Mayor of Manahiki, one of the small Cook Islands that sits just four meters above sea level and lies about 1,000 kilometers north of Rarotonga.  He says climate change is the biggest single everyday issue for the people of the Cook Islands and has resulted in a significant shift in migration patterns.

“We’ve lost most of our little islands that is in our lagoon, there’s no longer any soil or gravel on the top, now it’s all submerged under water.  Since 1997 when we had a big cyclone now our population back then was round 580 and up to now it’s down to 260 people on the island, so yes indeed it’s a big issue to talk about climate change,” stated Kora.

Pacific Islanders have complained for years that their interests, particularly in regards to climate change, have been overlooked by much bigger regional powers.  But many believe that the future could be different, with the so-called U.S. “pivot” towards the region, coupled with China’s growing ability to extend its diplomatic reach into the South Pacific.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs