6 Sep 2011

UN head warns climate change real threat to Pacific

11:54 pm on 6 September 2011

The head of the United Nations says climate change is a real threat to island states in the Pacific and action must be taken.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in New Zealand to attend the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum which began in Auckland on Tuesday.

Mr Ban said he has two issues he wants to address with leaders of the forum - climate change and establishing world security and peace.

He says he has visited the Solomon Islands and Kiribati which is the first time a UN Secretary-General has done so.

"I have watched the high tides impacting those villages. I thought at the time standing on the shore that ... it's high time to act.

Mr Ban says he wants to make sustainable development his priority in his second term as UN Secretary-General.

Students urged to get involved

Earlier, Mr Ban gave a speech at Auckland University where he urged

students to take a greater interest in global affairs.

Mr Ban's speech focused on sustainable development and recent uprisings through parts of the Middle East and Africa.

He spoke of the need of young people to hold their leaders to account and they must do their best to make the world a cleaner, safer place.

To the amusement of those gathered, Mr Ban compared rugby to diplomacy, saying they are not that different.

"In rugby, you lose your teeth; in diplomacy, you may sometimes lose your face."

The Secretary-General will meet with Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully during his visit.