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Global Humanitarian Forum warmly receives message

By Aenet Rowa

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, June 25, 2008) - Several hundred international and civil society leaders are meeting this week to address the issues of climate change and justice. Yesterday, day one of the first Global Humanitarian Forum’s first Annual Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, five young people, from vulnerable communities in affected regions, spoke before the conference as so-called "Climate Witnesses." Representing the Republic of the Marshall Islands was James N.C. Bing III, 18.

"We are here today because there is a problem," said Bing, who lives on Majuro, the capital atoll of the Marshall Islands.

Bing was the last of the five to speak. He vigorously shouted a Marshallese chant to express how he was feeling about the impact of climate change on his island group. Bing said, "That is how angry I am."

"Where is my soil, Ladies and Gentlemen? What have you done to it? I want my soil back."

Bing said his ancestors ate food that they grew themselves, but now his people are eating American canned food.

Bing and the other presenters were received warmly by the audience of the many of the world’s industry heads, civil and government officials.

Other youth, serving in the panel sponsored by the British Council, included Jesse Mike (Nunavut,Canada), Mama N’doda (Togo), Guilherme Pastore (Brazil), and Rishika Das Roy (India).

Martin Davidson, CEO of the British Council, who was the panel moderator said that his organization has built of young people from 110 countries, including the five speakers, which have joined together to exchange views and ideas on climate change.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is the Forum’s president, called for the participants to address "the human face of climate change": the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations affected by ever violent storms, drought and floods."

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