“We are sinking!” was the urgent message sent to COP26 from Tuvalu by its impeccably suited Foreign Minister Simon Kofe, and with the water rising dangerously above his kneess. “We can’t wait for speeches, when sea levels are rising around us.”
Two years after that shocking video, which put the third smallest country in the world on the climate change map, good news finally arrives: Australia is stepping up and is preparing to open “a special mobility route” to 280 inhabitants per yearin what is considered the first international agreement that implicitly recognizes the existence of “climate refugees.”
And not only that: the Australian giant is also committed to providing aid in the event of natural disasters, and to co-finance the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Program, with the aim of gain 6% of land from the sea in the capital, Funafuti, in an attempt to delay the moment in which the tiny country is devoured by the waters (possibly, in the second half of the century).
The agreement, sealed in the Cook Islands by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu Kausea Natano, and his Australian counterpart, Anthony Albanese, obviously has a geostrategic and security counterpart. After all, Tuvalu is one of the few nations in Polynesia that maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The new treaty is also a way to counter China’s growing influence in the area, with the neighboring Solomon Islands and Kiribati leaning towards Beijing.
Let’s say Tuvalu is more or less halfway there between Canberra and Honoluluand let us remember that Spanish Alvaro de Mendaña He was the first European explorer to navigate between the nine atolls (two of them already submerged) that ended up being a British protectorate under the name of Ellice Islands, and achieved independence in 1979.