Pacific leaders meeting in Nauru are expected Wednesday to sign a security agreement that addresses climate change and crimes such as drug smuggling and illegal fishing that cross borders.
Leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum have said they consider climate change their nations’ biggest security threat, since low-lying Pacific islands would cease to exist as sea levels rise.
The signing of the security declaration, which also addresses cybercrime and health concerns such as communicable diseases and pandemics, is the centerpiece of the three-day meeting. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has arrived in Nauru to attend an all-day leader’s retreat and the signing ceremony.
Earlier Wednesday, Pacific fishing and community groups signed an agreement with the European Union to improve sustainable fishing and ocean governance in the region.
Under the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership, the EU will provide 35 million euros ($41 million) and Sweden will provide 10 million euros ($12 million) over five years. The program will provide direct assistance to regional organizations.
Tensions over China and refugees have been running high at the forum after Nauru on Tuesday accused a Chinese official of bullying and temporarily detained a New Zealand journalist.
Nauru President Baron Waqa said a Chinese official had demanded to be heard when other leaders were due to speak, and had been “very insolent” about it.
“Maybe because he was from a big country he wanted to bully us,” Waqa said.
Nauru recognizes Taiwan and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with China.