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Secretary-General António Guterres visits Tuvalu

Friday, May 31, 2019 - 14:30

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres flew from Fiji to Tuvalu on Friday, 17 May 2019.

He was received in Funafuti by a Guard of Honour and was given a traditional welcome with chants and dance.

Upon arrival, he went to the Government Building where he held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister, Enele Sosene Sopoaga. They discussed issues of access to climate financing, mitigation and reliance.

This was followed by a joint media stakeout. The Secretary-General stressed that we need to make the world understand that climate change is not something that can be solved with minor changes and this requires very strong commitment. He added: “The generosity and hospitality of the people of Tuvalu warmed my heart and made me more determined to continue my work to ensure we can all have a sustainable future on this planet.”

The Secretary-General was then invited to plant a coconut tree and a visit to the Reclamation Area with the Prime Minister. This was followed by a traditional canoe sail by the beach. He later visited the causeway to see the narrowest point of the country.

He then had a photo shoot with a Time Magazine photographer for an upcoming story.

At midday he visited a Tuvaluan family, which has been personally affected by climate change and heard from their experiences.

The Government and civil society then hosted a lunch for the Secretary-General and his delegation, where the Secretary-General thanked them for their hospitality. After the lunch there was a farewell ceremony, where the Secretary-General engaged in a traditional dance.

Throughout his visit, the Secretary-General tweeted that Tuvalu is on the extreme front line of the global climate emergency and he expressed admiration for Tuvalu’s resistance and determination to tackle this issue head on. However, he emphasized that climate change cannot be stopped in Tuvalu only — it has to be stopped in the rest of the world. “Saving Tuvalu is a global mission for us all. It’s a global duty. And it starts with the biggest emitters in the world. We need urgent climate action to stop Tuvalu from sinking and the world from sinking with it,” he said.

The Secretary-General left Tuvalu mid-afternoon to return to Fiji.