I've always been clear that Aotearoa New Zealand, as a Pacific country will stand in solidarity with our Pacific brothers and sisters to defend their right to self-determination, and to protect their right to live on their ancestral lands, and to ensure the young people of the Blue Pacific Continent can be assured of their existence on their ancestral lands for now and for generations to come.
For that reason I don't like to use the phrase "existential crisis" when we refer to climate change in the Pacific because it reeks of fatalism.
The fate of our Pacific families, caused by climate negligence by larger nations, is not locked in and the phrase implies we in the Pacific are to give in to wealthy countries and their lackadaisical approach to reducing their carbon emissions.
With their inaction to respond urgently, it sometimes seems to me they don't care whether small Pacific island states will survive rising sea water levels or not.
Therefore I see my role as the UN-Commonwealth Advocate as integral to helping amplify the voice and support for all small, developing island states.
This common climate crisis they are all experiencing is happening now, as we speak and not tomorrow, and why future-proofing the world against the impact of climate change must be balanced against the immediate crisis facing so many of our small island states, which are literally drowning as sea levels rise.
In Suva last week when I attended the Pacific Islands Forum meeting on behalf of Nanaia Mahuta, I reiterated alongside foreign affairs ministers from the Pacific region that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet.
Increased heatwaves, storms, droughts and floods expose millions of the world's most vulnerable to acute food and water insecurity, while ocean changes also threaten those of us who live close to the sea.
We recognise climate change is already causing irreversible loss and damage. And this is disproportionately experienced in lower-income communities and countries. Among the most vulnerable are the island countries and territories of the Pacific – Aotearoa New Zealand's closest friends, neighbours and family.
The science is unambiguously clear: ambitious, accelerated action is needed. Across the world, we need to adapt to the effects of climate change and make rapid, deep cuts in our greenhouse gas emissions. Our future security, prosperity and wellbeing depend on an effective global response to climate change.
Aotearoa New Zealand recognises this need for urgent global action. We want COP27 to deliver this action. We are also committed to ensuring there is a platform for amplifying Pacific voices so that Pacific advocacy drives ambitious global action at COP27.
To this end, I'll be seeking in my role to work closely with the Pacific island forum members to support their leadership and innovation.
In summing up, the G20 nations that are responsible for 80 per cent of global carbon emissions are also the very nations that have the privileged position of large land masses and high ground.
They behave in a way that says they also believe climate change is something in the future, whilst the Pacific and small developing island nations are living in a present where rising sea levels, coastal erosion, loss of land, a mix of hotter, wetter and drier climatic conditions, and destruction of groundwater catchments will very soon displace communities from their ancestral lands, fishing and feeding grounds and make them climate refugees.
For them, climate change is an intergenerational issue of injustice, and not just climate change and its global devastating effects.
I will be calling upon all nations with power and influence, especially the G20 nations, to dig deep into their heart of hearts and be fully persuaded by the science and lived experiences of small island developing states and their right to live as they have always done.
That they enjoy enduring sovereignty as nations and as citizens of the global human race, their right to not be displaced because of the neglect and inaction of G20 nations.
Of our G20 nations I ask, can they find it in their collective hearts to work together and support the plight of small island states and support them with critical finance, debt elimination, and support the protection of their ancestral homelands through adaptation and mitigation efforts.
Because if we do not respond immediately, we are left with supporting them with displacement and resettlement strategies, and a consequence that speaks to our loss of our love for humanity and our deep sense of responsibility to each other and those on the edge of our global community. The Blue Continent is crying out yet again for our collective support – and my plea as the UN-Commonwealth Advocate for small island developing states is this - when will we hear their cry and when will we respond?"
Aupito William Sio is Minister Pacific Peoples, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education (Pacific Peoples), Justice, and Health (Pacific Peoples).