New Zealand's former Commonwealth secretary general is describing planning for the future of Kiribati and Tuvalu in the light of rising sea levels, as a global responsibility.
Sir Donald McKinnon says proactive strategies now could help avoid a panic response in the future.
He says the people of Kiribati and Tuvalu need new options in case their islands disappear and they should be consulted now on possible solutions.
"We should be prepared to listen quite carefully to the people themselves, the people of Kiribati, the people of Tuvalu. They are reading the same media headlines as we are reading here in New Zealand. They'll be aware that they are facing a somewhat uncertain future. They are not strong economies in the first place. They are not like the Maldives which generates a tremendous amount via tourism. They are getting by, but with difficulty."