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German FM warns of climate threat during Fiji visit

Saim Dušan Inayatullah
May 6, 2024

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that climate change was "washing the ground out from under people's feet" in Fiji. The Pacific island nation faces rising sea levels due to global warming.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (right) wearing Fijian garland alongside Henry Puna (left), head of the Pacific Island Forum
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says that Pacific island countries such as Fiji are being particularly affected by the consequences of climate changeImage: Sina Schuldt/dpa/picture alliance

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned of the consequences of the climate crisis during a Monday visit to Fiji.

Fiji officials have long pointed to the risk that extreme weather events and rising sea levels could pose to the Pacific island state.

What did Baerbock say during her visit to Fiji?

"The climate crisis is literally washing the ground out from under people's feet here," Baerbock said.

"The climate crisis is the greatest threat for the security of the people in Pacific island states," she added. 

She pointed to the fact that Fiji and other Pacific states have to deal with the consequences of global warming, including extreme weather phenomena such as tropical storms, droughts and floods.

Baerbock said that Berlin would assist in damage repair efforts and help promote renewable energy. 

"It is not for nothing that combating the climate crisis is at the center of our strengthen bilateral cooperation," Baerbock said.

The foreign minister visited a village in the hinterland of Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu, which also houses the country's capital, Suva.

Fiji is made up of 330 south Pacific islands, and the country's low-lying areas are threatened by rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

Six villages have been abandoned due to the consequences of climate change and 42 more are considered to be at high risk.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock examines flooded area in Vuniniudrovu, Viti Levu, Fiji alongside officials
Baerbock visited the flooded village of Vuniniudrovu, which lies on Fiji's largest island, Viti LevuImage: Florian Gaertner/photothek/AA/picture alliance

Fiji visit follows trips to Australia, New Zealand

Fiji was the third and final stop in Baerbock's tour of the Pacific, following trips to Australia and New Zealand.

During her visit to Adelaide in the state of South Australia, she discussed geopolitical issues with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and visited a cybersecurity center and an Australian Navy post.

She also returned four cultural heritage items to the Kaurna people, who are indigenous to the area around Adelaide.

Baerbock also met with New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters in Auckland.

During the visit, New Zealand signed a memorandum of understanding with Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute to foster cooperation in South Pole scientific research.

This article was written using material from DPA news agency

Edited by: Wesley Rahn

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