• Connecting the Dots - Poverty and Climate Change

    Posted by Micah

    23 September, 2011

    On Tuesday morning, Alex Engel (middle) and Kateia Kaikai (left) met with Climate Change Minister Greg Combet (right) to discuss the impacts of climate change on the world's poorest and most marginalised communities.
    They discussed with him the need to improve financial and technical assistance to developing countries, and supporting innovative finance mechanisms to source the funds urgently needed to tackle climate change.

    'We thanked the Minister for the steps the Government has already taken, and reinforced our view that the world's poor must be at the heart of the conversation about climate change in Australia,' says Alexandra.

    The pair were in Canberra for Micah Challenge's Voices for Justice, advocating with Members of Parliament of all stripes for a stronger Australian aid program. Part of this story is the need for a renewed focus on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programs, with the group highlighting that diahorrea (a very preventable disease) remains one of the biggest killers of children under five around the world.

    Voices for Justice participants also highlighted the links between climate change and the health and livelihoods of communities in developing countries. Kateia, who arrived from Kiribati just three months ago, shared her personal story with Minister Combet in relation to this theme.

    'I have seen the damage that sea water intrusion and changes in weather have already had on people's crops and livelihoods in my country,' says Kateia.

    Kiribati is a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean and is one of the world's poorest countries. With most of Kiribati less than 3m above sea level, even marginal increases in sea level will be disastrous. The World Bank points to additional concerns in the region, such as degradation of coastal ecosystems and increased vulnerability as a result of more extreme and unpredictable.

    'Increased sea water intrusion from rising sea levels has limited our supply of fresh water, which has meant crop failures and very bad consequences for health...this is in the short term, but in the long term, we may lose all of our land underwater and be forced to leave our home,' says Kateia.

    In another meeting with Voices for Justice participants, The Hon Richard Marles, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, told Kateia that his visit to Kiribati was one of the most significant moments of his political career. Let us hope that his enthusiasm for this issue and the plight of this small island nation is heard and acted upon by MPs of all political stripes in the coming days, weeks and months.

    Micah Challenge's 'Share the Earth' campaign aims to raise awareness of MDG7 - ensuring environmental sustainability, by encouraging youth, church and community groups to run a 'Share the Table' event. Micah Challenge also has a number of MDG7 resources for a deeper understanding of this issue.

    Alex Engel is the Campaigns Coordinator at
    Caritas Australia.