Anote Tong was President of the Republic of Kiribati having served the maximum three term limit between 2003 to 2016. During his terms in office he was responsible for drawing international focus of attention to the human dimension of climate change by highlighting the existential threat faced by his people and those of other vulnerable countries on the frontline of the impacts of climate change, many of which are in the Pacific Region. On leaving office he joined Conservation International as a Distinguished Fellow from 2016 to 2018 and continues to speak on a worldwide basis at conferences and institutions.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) projections of sea level rise will render these island nations uninhabitable and even submerged well within the century and President Tong has been campaigning for credible options for securing the future of these communities. He was responsible for declaring what was then the largest marine protected areawhen he closed off more than 400 thousand sq. km of the Pheonix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in 2008 from any extractive industries. PIPA has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. For his advocacy work on climate change and ocean conservation during his terms in office and since retiring from office, Anote Tong has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, was awarded the Sun Hak Peace Prize in 2015, the Peter Benchley Award, the Edmund Hilary Award and a number of other awards in acknowledgements of his works. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Canterbury, NZ, his Masters in Economics from the London School of Economics, UK and an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from The National PukyongUniversity, South Korea and an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the University of the South Pacific, Fiji.
He resides in his home country of Kiribati, a group of 33 atoll islands which are narrow strips of land which are on average less than 2 meters above sea level located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He is married with more than twenty grandchildren hence his deep concern for the future of his people and of the global community.