MALE (AFP) — Dozens of small island nations opened talks in the Maldives Tuesday to draft a strategy to combat rising sea levels threatening their countries.
Delegates from 26 low-lying nations -- including Tonga, Micronesia and Kiribati -- are meeting to craft a proposal ahead of global climate change talks in Indonesia in December.
"Time is running out for us to ensure the survival of our future generation," Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said at the opening of the two-day meeting.
The low-lying nations fear not enough is being done to cut the greenhouse gases that are said to cause global warming, which forecasters warn could melt the ice caps and raise sea levels sharply before the end of the century.
Gayoom said climate change was about much more than the environment, science or politics: "It is fundamentally an issue about people."
The tidal surges experienced on 80 of the Maldives' 200 inhabited islands earlier this year were "a grim reminder of the devastating tsunami of 2004 and a clear warning of future disasters", he said.