Heads of State and Ministers from some of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries at a conference in Maldives on Tuesday called on world leaders including President Obama and the leaders of major emerging economies such as India and China, to personally attend the Copenhagen climate change conference (December 7 to 18) and “redouble their efforts at reaching a binding, ambitious, fair and effective agreement.”

The vulnerable developing countries were meeting in the Maldives on Monday and Tuesday to thrash out a common position ahead of the Copenhagen climate change negotiations in December.

At the end of a two-day meeting in Bandos Island the group of eleven countries of the Climate Vulnerable Forum adopted a declaration also emphasising the need for ambitious financial package and technical help from the developed world in order to achieve carbon neutral status.

Delegates at the Forum included President Tong of Kiribati, as well as foreign and environment ministers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, and representatives from Barbados and Bhutan.

China, Denmark, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, the UK and the United States attended the Forum as observers. India, which was invited to take part in the conference, could not send its delegation.

The V11 declared that those countries that embrace green economic development would be “the winners of the 21st Century.”

As per an e-mail statement of the conference organisers speaking at a press conference after adoption of the Declaration Maldivian President, Mohammad Nasheed, who hosted the summit, said: “We want to show an example to the world by unilaterally adopting green development. We want to show the way by committing to carbon neutrality. We want to argue for climate change action from the moral high ground.”

“Leadership is not about following public opinion but leading it,” Nasheed said. It quoted the President of Tong of Kiribati as saying, “We need to prick the conscience of the world,” added President Tong of Kiribati.

Tanzanian Environment Minster Batlida Burlan told the news conference, “We will do something. We will go further by going into carbon neutrality, and invite like-minded countries to do the same.”

Christopher Hacket, the Barbados Special Envoy and Permanent Representative to the UN has been quoted as saying, “We shouldn’t expect others to do what we are not willing to do ourselves. We fully support the need to go green and go for renewables.”

The declaration further called on countries to “turn their backs on carbon intensive modes of production established in 19th Century Europe.”

In his inaugural address to the conference on Monday the Maldives President Mohamed lamented what he termed as the lack of progress being made in international climate change negotiations and called on poor, vulnerable countries to show “moral leadership” by shifting from fossil fuel to renewable energy.

As a country that is threatened most by the rise in sea level, the Maldives has the status of a front-line state in the debate on climate change. Since assumption of office Mr. Nasheed has been marketing the nation of 1, 200 coral islands as a frontline state on climate change. Of the 1,200 islands, 200 are inhabited and nearly 100 have been made tourist resorts.

The Maldivian President and his team have seized the opportunity presented by the climate change conflict between the developed and developing countries to showcase the Maldives as a textbook case in the search for answers to some of the complex questions on global warming and the threat of an environmental catastrophe.

In his address to the United Nations climate summit in New York on September 22, Mr. Nasheed had called upon world leaders to seize the historic opportunity at the Copenhagen climate summit to be held in December. He asked world leaders to “discard [the] habits that have led to 20 years of complacency and broken promises on climate change”.

More In: International | News