Anote Tong is the former president of the Republic of Kiribati, which is already suffering from the effects of climate change.
Rising sea levels are causing land to be engulfed by tidal waters, driving people away from their homes and leaving them displaced, ABC reports.
“What I have seen in my lifetime over the years has been villages, communities, who have had to leave … because it is no longer viable,” he said.
“The sea is there and there is nothing. Everything has been taken away so they have had to relocate.”
This may be the future for the more than 100,000 people who call Kiribati, and its chain of isles and atolls, their home.
Tong was in Adelaide Friday for the official launch of the University of Adelaide’s new Centre for Applied Conservation Science.
Tong said he had met with the same engineers who built manmade islands in Dubai and believes this could be a potential solution for Kiribati.
“The alternative with that would be that our country would no longer be there and I don’t think that is an option we are willing to consider,” he said.
“We may not be able to accommodate all of our people but as a nation and as a people I don’t think we should ever, ever disappear from the face of this Earth.”