SAS 15 Speaker President Tong of Kiribati warned us of climate refugee crisis

Summit at Sea 2015 talk on climate change impacts

Summit at Sea 2015 talk on climate change impacts

The New York Times cover feature on the small island nation of Kiribati echos what President Tong told us about the human and cultural impact of rising sea levels at Summit at Sea 2015.  President Tong spoke on a panel with M. Sanjayan, Senior Scientist, and Peter Seligman, Chairman and CEO of Conservation International where they elucidated the challenges of small island nations who are the victims of the climate change effect of rising sea levels.  President Tong spoke of the possibility that his people will need to take refuge in neighboring (and higher elevation) Fiji or look into partnerships the bring innovative stilt-based building to the islands.

But the most powerful moment was after the talk - the Summit team found a member of the ship’s engine room staff who was from the tiny island nation of Kiribati and had him take an hour off work to attend the session...and then meet his President!  It was awesome to see this worker and world leader hug and take a few photos - a great reminder of all the people that help to make Summit events what they are.

Check out the line-up and info on Summit at Sea 2016 here.