The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has been involved in many efforts to protect populations from climate change. UNEP supports the social policy research of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and helps developing nations in Africa maximize energy efficiency.
The organization’s members are also increasingly concerned about the sinking island states in our oceans that is caused by rising sea levels. UNEP’s Asia and Pacific Regional Director Mr. Surendra Shrestha is a native of Nepal, who is also well known for effectively mobilizing political and financial support for UNEP’s programs.
Surendra Shrestha, United Nations Environment Program Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific: If we look at the small islands like Maldives, for example; Maldives in the last 4 years have lost 6 islands. In Indonesia the Minister has told us that they have lost 30 islands, all under the sea. So countries like the Maldives, if the sea level will rise a meter or above, will not exist anymore. The whole country will be gone. So this is indeed a serious issue.
VOICE: More than half the world’s population lives near coastline areas. Rising water levels inevitably would create mass migrations of so-called environmental refugees. UNEP has been working to set up free location programs, but in the future these may not be enough.
Surendra Shrestha: United Nations is assisting with that program, assisting government with that. But that is one or two islands. But if we have large populations, the whole country of Maldives, or if we look at the South Pacific, you know Tuvalu, the small islands, the whole country is going to be submerged. So we have to think of a bigger strategy to assist those people.
VOICE: We pray for greater efforts to halt global warming so that our world’s precious islands and their beautiful inhabitants may be safely preserved.