Climate Change is Every Mothers Fight

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Imagine the place you call “home” is in danger of disappearing. You don’t know when it will happen, but you know how and why. For many people around the world this fear of losing their homes in the not-too-distant future is a constant worry.

During yesterday’s UN Climate Summit, a climate change activist from a place most Americans probably have never heard of made headlines for delivering what many called the most moving speech of the day. Out of 500 women candidates, the 27-year-old poet from the Marshall Islands was chosen to address the United Nations as the Civil Society Representative. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner talked about how her home and many other small developing islands such as Antigua and Barbuda and the Solomon Islands are in danger of disappearing because of sea level rise due to climate change. She delivered an emotional and surreal speech, followed by a chilling poem she wrote for her seven-month-old daughter.

“Those of us from Oceania are already experiencing it firsthand. We’ve seen waves crashing into our homes and our breadfruit trees wither from the salt and drought. We look at our children and we wonder how they will know themselves or their culture should we lose our islands,” Jetnil-Kijiner told world leaders.

Below is her speech and the poem that brought leaders to their feet and moved many to tears.

“Dear Matafele Peinem don’t cry Mommy promises you no one will come and devour you. No greedy whale of a company sharking through political seas. No back water bullying of businesses with broken morals. No blindfolded bureaucracies gonna push this mother ocean over the edge.

No one’s drowning baby…no one’s losing their homeland. No one’s gonna become a climate change refugee.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Charina Nadura is the digital assistant at She was previously a multimedia news production fellow at Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. While there, she helped produce segments on climate change, the fast-food workers movement and the Philippines. Her documentary project The Second Generation Filipino was shown at the San Francisco Immigrant Film Fest in 2012. Follow her on Twitter: @CharinaNadura.
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