Heads of State from the Pacific Islands spoke out this evening in Cancun about their fight for the survival and the need for urgent climate action.

President Marcus Stephen of Nauru set the tone of the press conference from the start, "We're talking about our survival. It is something that is happening on our watch."

"We have already experienced destruction," said the Prime Minister of Samoa. Hurricanes, cyclones, and rainfall have all devastated parts of Samoa over the last few years. "We are not talking about events that may happen in the future. We have lived through these catastrophes….The amount of damage that occurred was beyond belief." 

Natural disasters are priced first in human lives, but also in money. The cyclones that hit Samoa caused over $400 million each. They, and other vulnerable countries, are looking for financing from rich countries to help adapt to ongoing climate impacts. Rich countries not only have the capacity to help, but also a responsibility: the island of Samoa has contributed nothing to climate change compared to a nation like the United States.

Pacific Islands aren't just sitting back looking for help, however. They are actively taking matters into their own hands. Samoa, for example, has set a goal of planting 3 million trees by 2020 and are supporting renewable energy projects. "We, too, recognize that we have a responsibility to ensure that we make the best use of the funds made available to us," said the PM of Samoa.

"While I'm speaking, it's high-tide in our respective countries," said the Vice-President of the Federated States of Micronesia. He went on to explain how saltwater is intruding into the center of his islands, ruining agriculture and making development more difficult.

Micronesia is not only looking at long term goals of cutting carbon dioxide, but also at a strategy of reducing other greenhouse gases immediately. The country is working with over 90 other nations to try and use the Montreal Protocol, a previous environmental agreement, to cut these gases immediatey.

Despite their calm tones, the sense of urgency from these Pacific leaders is palpable. Global warming is not a future concern for them, it is a fact of life — an event that "touches everybody" as the Vice President of Samoa said.

At 350.org, we'll continue to be pushing for action in solidarity with the island nations and vulnerable peoples all across the world who are confronting the climate crisis. The Pacific islands may be on the front-lines, but all of us on earth live on a small island floating in space.