Former President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, has been visiting communities in the Torres Strait to stand alongside Uncle Paul Kabai on Saibai island and Uncle Pabai Pabai on Boigu island as they bring the landmark Australian Climate Case against the Australian government, demanding emissions reduction in line with the science.
President Tong, a well known advocate for greater global climate action, is visiting as part of the Pacific Elders Voice, a group of former Prime Ministers, Presidents and high level officials in the Pacific. Today, these communities together release the Mura Kalmel Sipa statement.
THE MURA KALMEL SIPA STATEMENT:
STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY (“MURA KALMEL SIPA”) BETWEEN SAIBAI, BOIGU AND PACIFIC ELDERS
At the invitation of the Saibai and Boigu Island Elders, the Chairman of the Pacific Elders’ Voice and former President of Kiribati, HE Anote Tong, visited the Islands in April 2023 and noted that climate-related threats faced by the communities there are similar to those faced by other Pacific Island countries like Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, as well as other Pacific communities on the frontline of climate change impacts.
The Pacific Elders' Voice, together with Saibai and Boigu Elders, stand in solidarity with each other’s homelands and peoples, and our shared experience in the face of the climate crisis.
We stand together in calling for governments to move away from subsidising fossil fuel projects and take urgent and decisive climate action that will ensure global warming remains below 1.5C.
We stand together in friendship and solidarity in the pursuit of climate justice.
We stand together in asking Australia and those responsible for perpetuating the climate crisis, including the fossil fuel industry, to hear our voices and act immediately to ensure the survival of our homelands, peoples, cultures and way of life.
Chair, Saibai Mura Buway PBC
Dhoeybaw Clan Chair and community member
Saibai Councillor, TSRIC
Director Ait Koedal Clan and community member
Uncle Ialatie Gilbert Akiba
Saibai Migi Buwai Clan Elder and community member
Uncle Elvis Terrigton Warusam
Koey Buwai Clan Elder and community member
Aunty Vera Toby
Custodian of Boigu Island
Uncle Dick Gibuma
Boigu Samu Clan Elder and community member
Uncle Percy Maitie
Boigu Koedal Clan Elder and community member
Boigu Karbay/Baidham Clan and community member
Pastor Namia Marama
Boigu Spiritual Leader and community member
Boigu Dhoeybaw Clan/Environmental health worker, TSIRC
HE Anote Tong
Former President of the Republic of Kiribati
Chair, Pacific Elders’ Voice
*Mura Kalmel Sipa means ‘all together we stand’ in Kala Kawa Ya (KKY) language.
During President Tong’s tour of Boigu and Saibai the community members across all ages, from children to Elders, are taking part in workshops and training about the causes, impacts and solutions to climate change run by the Edmund Rice Centre’s Pacific Calling Partnership. Elders have been taking President Tong on tours of their islands to examine the damage caused by climate change and discuss the impacts on community, culture, food security and fears of displacement due to sea level rise. People living in Pacific nations are suffering from much the same climate change impacts as
people living in the Torres Strait such as severe erosion from rising seas, salt water inundation of fresh water areas, salt water pollution of soil preventing families from growing fruit and cemeteries on Boigu and Saibai. The trip is a reminder of their ancient links and shared cultures.
Uncle Pabai and Uncle Paul’s landmark climate case is the first of its kind in Australia. Uncle Pabai and Uncle Paul will argue that by failing to prevent climate change the Australian government has unlawfully breached its duty of care to Torres Strait Islanders, because of the severe and lasting harm that climate change would cause to their communities. They are seeking an order from the court requiring the government to prevent this harm to their communities by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the best available science. The first hearing will be held by the Federal Court on-country in Boigu, Saibai and Badu, followed by Cairns in June.