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‘People are more important’: A conversation with Anote Tong

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Editor’s note: The island nation of Kiribati has a geography that boggles the mind. At 3.5 million square kilometers (1.4 million square miles), the country’s exclusive economic zone is the 12th largest in the world, just behind Brazil’s. And yet Kiribati is 99.98 percent ocean, with its total land area only about the size of New York City. With so much ocean, Kiribati is experiencing the future of our oceans now. With the U.N. Oceans Conference under way this week, Human Nature talks with former Kiribati President Anote Tong — a Lui-Walton Distinguished Fellow at Conservation International — about storm swells, the Law of the Sea and what it means to be a “rational radical.”


© Conservation International/photo by Toby de Jong

How did you first become involved in conservation?

As leader of a nation that is on the front line of the climate change challenge, I went through a lot of struggles trying to get the international community to listen to our voice, to try to put into focus the human dimension of what I believe to be the
greatest moral challenge facing…

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