Hagåtña, Guam – On February 26, Guam became the first of over 60 U.S. island communities, foundations, environmental organizations, companies, and academic institutions, across the nation and around the world, to sign the Climate Strong Islands Declaration. The declaration calls upon federal and state governments, philanthropy, academia, and the private sector to recognize the chronic lack of attention and investments that islands have endured, and act.
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio were joined for the signing by the Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency Chairperson, Senator Sabina Perez; Climate Change Resiliency Commission Chairperson, Evangeline Lujan; University of Guam (UOG) President, Dr. Thomas Krise; and Micronesia Climate Change Alliance President, Michelle Voacolo. Representing Guam at the main signing event in Puerto Rico were UOG Center for Island Sustainability Director, Dr. Austin Shelton and UOG Green Army President, Kyle Dahilig.
The Climate Strong Islands Declaration sets forth a set of principles, challenges, and opportunities faced by island communities in the U.S. and serves as a call-to-arms to help these communities respond to the climate crisis in an effective way.
“I am pleased that Guam is the first to commit to this important decision. Signing this declaration gives us a stronger voice in the national and global communities,” said Governor Leon Guerrero. “Locally, our government has several initiatives to address climate change including the Climate Change Resiliency Commission and Guam Green Growth. Further, I have gratitude for the hard work and passion of the other signatories to address climate change on our island and to ensure that we have a livable island for future generations.”
“The University of Guam is proud to be a representative for Guam and all of Micronesia on this declaration and to be a partner among so many island communities with common concerns. As an institution of research and higher education serving the whole region, we want to contribute expertise and resources toward the critical issues in our region, and climate change in particular,” said President Krise.
“Climate change threatens nearly all aspects of life on earth and will require strong policy solutions to protect Guam’s environment and people,” said Senator Perez. “Proper planning and policies toward greenhouse gas reduction may also help eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development. As a Senator and Chairperson on Environment and Guam’s Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency, I am committed to working towards solutions protect our islands from the impacts of climate change. I look forward to collaborating local and national partners to reduce greenhouse emissions and promote sustainable development.”
With the right support, island communities are well positioned to co-create, pilot, and perfect innovative solutions that address climate mitigation, resilience, and sustainability. They can pioneer nature-based solutions to prevent coastal erosion in the face of rising sea levels and intensifying storms. With sustained and focused investments, they are poised to transform their energy, transportation, food, and water systems and model the low-carbon, resilient economy we need to build in the 21st Century.
The Declaration emerged from more than two years of discussion that started when Hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Florida Keys. It highlights the incredible potential and increasing perils that islands face from the climate crisis. Although this discussion began in the Atlantic, the Pacific Islands are no stranger to the impacts of climate change, such as increased storm and drought intensity, increased sea surface temperatures, coral bleaching, sea level rise, and coastal erosion.
For more information on the Climate Strong Islands Network and related Guam Green Growth activities, please contact Lauren Swaddell at firstname.lastname@example.org.