Government representatives and ambassadors from 31 countries from the Pacific, Caribbean and African coasts who are facing significant challenges from climate change are in Cork this weekend for SeaFest and the Ocean Wealth summit.

These island countries known as SIDS, or Small Island Developing States, are also a key group in Ireland’s bid to take a seat on the UN Security Council.

Climate change and the health of the oceans are key priorities for these countries and each of them has a vote at the Security Council, which carries the same weight as the bigger countries like China and the USA.

SIDS includes countries such as Antigua, Haiti and Barbados in the Caribbean, as well as Fuji and Papua New Guinea in the Pacific and the Sechelles and Mauritius along the African coast. 

They are being hosted by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney at a number of events at SeaFest, and are also attending the Ocean Wealth Summit in the city on Monday.

Minister Coveney said Ireland wants to give leadership on the important issues of protecting our seas and maritime environment and countering climate change.

He said this is the largest delegation of small countries to visit Ireland at any one time. Having them here is also part of our campaign to secure a seat at the UN Security Council, he said.

The ocean summit will address issues such as sea tourism, maritime industry, fishing, sailing, research and the military.

It is being attended by a number of major international figures, including former US Secretary of State John Kerry, former president Mary Robinson, and Danny Faure, President of the Seychelles.