Songs of the Pacific have been heard at Parliament House as islanders from countries likely to be most at threat from rising sea levels braved the Canberra winter to highlight the issue of climate change.
In traditional dress, the group performed a cultural dance and spoke about their concerns.
The delegates, from Kiribati, Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea, are meeting federal politicians and officials representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
They are seeking a cut in carbon emissions and more assistance for their countries’ climate change mitigation.
Kiribati, which is only about two to three metres above sea level, and Tuvalu, at four metres above sea level, are already battling rising sea levels and crop losses.
The delegate from Wewak in PNG says her region in the East Sepik province is also in danger.
Apisaloma Tawati, 19, from Kiribati says the group is taking its campaign to the world.
“I am here today to make everyone aware of our hardship and to convince you that we need your help and … you can help us,” he said.
“As a youth I am afraid of climate change. I see our land is becoming thinner and thinner.
“We live near the coast and we see a lot of things. We saw coastal erosion, the land has been eroded away, sea walls have broken.
“I come to Australia to tell the world of our hardship and our stories back in Kiribati.
“Kiribati is enduring a lot of problems due to climate change.”
Maina Talia, 29, from Tuvalu wants Australia to rethink its climate change policy.
“We are the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable countries,” he said.
“Since we don’t have any mountains or rivers, for us to adapt is very difficult. It is a burden to the people of Tuvalu as to how they can adapt.
“Now when it comes to high tide you can see the tide everywhere it seeps through the whole island.
“It kills the crops – it kills our traditional root crops.
“It (the rising sea levels) are just there and we don’t know how that happens but we believe it is climate change.”
Talia says it is important to keep campaigning because people from Tuvalu feel so vulnerable.
“It is difficult to determine who is listening and who is not listening,” he said.
“I believe they have heard our message so many times but we keep on pushing and advocating for Tuvalu and Kiribati and low lying atolls [so] that leaders of Australia and other industrialised countries will continue to hear our voice.”
CANBERRA, (RADIO AUSTRALIA)