Keynote speakers and their presentations
President Anote Tong
Republic of Kiribati President His Excellency Anote Tong is known across the world as a vocal advocate for bold action against climate change. Rising sea levels threaten the existence of the low-lying island nation, which is also at increased risk of more frequent extreme weather events associated with climate change.
Under his leadership, the Kiribati government has been working on a relocation plan for some of the island’s 105,000 people, which includes purchasing land on a Fijian island in 2014. His government also developed a national adaptation programme with initiatives that address issues such as coastal protection, water supply management and population settlement.
President Tong has brought the international spotlight on Kiribati, highlighting the urgent need for widespread and global change. After the failure of Copenhagen in 2009, he organised the Tarawa Climate Change Conference, which resulted in 12 countries adopting the Ambo Declaration, aimed at creating a platform for negotiations between vulnerable states and their partners.
His government also founded the Coalition of Low Lying Atoll Nations on Climate Change, a body that unites island nations at the frontline of climate change.
A tireless advocate, President Anote Tong has emerged as a leader of small island nations to bring about greater understanding, global cooperation and action to fight climate change.
Download President Anote Tong's keynote (PDF, 78KB)
In 1989, Bill McKibben published the best-selling The End of Nature, which became widely regarded as the first book for the general public about climate change. The book has since been translated into 24 languages, and the journalist, environmentalist and activist went on to publish another 14 books on subjects as diverse as alternative energy, genetic engineering, localising economies and the benefits of single-child families.
In 2007, he founded the world’s first worldwide, grassroots climate change movement 350.org, which has mobilised millions of supporters from over 188 countries.
Professor Will Steffen
Will Steffen is a councillor on the publicly-funded Climate Council of Australia that delivers independent expert information about climate change, and is an Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra and a member of the ACT Climate Change Council.
From 1998 to mid-2004, Professor Steffen served as executive director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, based in Stockholm, Sweden, and is currently a Senior Fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
His research interests span a broad range within the fields of climate and Earth system science, with an emphasis on the incorporation of human processes in Earth system modelling and analysis, the sustainability and climate change, particularly in the context of urban areas.
Download his presentation—Climate Policy in the Pacific: The Challenges Posed by Science (PDF, 3.6MB)
Leota Kosi Latu
Leota Kosi Latu is the newly-appointed director general of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). With 26 member nations on board, SPREP has the vital task of coordinating members' activities at a regional level in order to manage and protect their environment within the context of sustainable development.
Leota stepped into the role in January 2016 after seven years as deputy director general, and prior to this was manager of the United Nations Office for Project Services Financial Compliance Programme based in Fiji.
The proud Samoan has a background in international environmental law, law of the sea and financial compliance. Although his career has largely been centred in Samoa, Leota also spent 11 years in working in legal branches of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.
One of New Zealand’s foremost business journalists, Rod Oram has long been a familiar name across print, radio and television media for his insightful commentaries and robust reporting. Rod’s 40-plus years in journalism extends beyond New Zealand’s top national media, into European and North American publications including London’s Financial Times.
The award-winning journalist is also an active leader across various groups dedicated to helping grow businesses, including founding and directing the Ākina Foundation, that assists the development of social enterprises, and working with University of Auckland’s entrepreneurial centre The Icehouse.
Rod is widely reputed as a top-class commentator unafraid to take on the big issues. His work as a public speaker includes tackling issues such as climate change, sustainable development, social responsibility and ethical investment.
Download his presentation—Reinventing Paradise: Towards our sustainable future (PDF, 10.6MB)
Koreti Tiumalu is a Samoan climate activist who was born and raised in Newtown, Wellington. Currently based in Suva, Koreti is the pacific region coordinator for 350.org and works with a network of grassroots climate organisers from 15 Pacific Island nations known as the Pacific Climate Warriors.
One of the key objectives of 350.org Pacific is to find new and innovative ways to raise global awareness of climate realities experienced in the islands that are uniquely Pacific and can engage local communities directly impacted by climate change.
Two of the most notable campaigns Koreti was involved in was a blockade of the Newcastle coal port in Australia, using traditional hand carved paopao (canoes) in 2014 and a three-day prayer vigil using fine mats at the Vatican in Rome in October, 2015.
Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Te Aitanga ā Māhaki, Norfolk Island, Tahiti
Dayle is an indigenous rights and environmental lawyer who has led her iwi, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, in their struggle against a deep sea drilling permit off the East Coast.
She holds a Master’s in Law, specialising in environmental law and is a graduate of the United Nations (UN) World Intellectual Property Academy and the International Indigenous Women’s Global Leadership School.
She has lectured in commercial law and Treaty jurisprudence, and has presented at a number of forums including the Māori Legal Forum, the Environmental Law Forum and the International Indian Treaty Council.
Dayle has advocated for her people at the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN’s Working Group for Indigenous Peoples and Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues.
Dayle is currently researching climate change law. She is involved in biodiversity policy development and negotiates for her tribal nation, while continuing her legal work in indigenous, Treaty and environmental issues.
Professor James Renwick
Recently dubbed by media as “arguably New Zealand’s foremost authority” on climate change, James is a key player in various climate change organisations both in New Zealand and abroad.
He is currently a professor of physical geography at Victoria University, and a member of the World Climate Research Programme Joint Scientific Committee and World Meteorological Organisation Executive Council Panel of Experts on Polar Observations, Research and Services.
He was a lead author on two assessment reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and spent 20 years as a senior scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.
James’s background in atmospheric science has branched into specialist areas around climate variability, climate modelling, and climate change in a New Zealand context. He has a strong interest in how Antarctic sea ice responds to the atmosphere and oceans, sparked by field work on the sea ice many years ago.
Download his presentation—In the Eye of the Storm: Climate Change and the Pacific (PDF, 1.2MB)
Professor Tim Naish
Tim is a Professor in Earth Sciences and director of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, and principal scientist at GNS Science. His research focuses on reconstructing past ice sheet and global sea-level changes relevant to future climate projections.
Tim has participated in 13 expeditions to Antarctica and was a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change’s 5th Assessment Report.
Tim and his team at the Antarctic Research Centre are committed to communication of Antarctic and climate change science and its societal relevance. He has received the New Zealand Antarctic Medal, the New Zealand Science and Technology Medal and the Martha Muse Prize for Antarctic Science and Policy. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Download his presentation—The latest climate change science: Long and short-term implication for the Pacific (PDF, 2.3MB)