The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum says climate change is a real and most serious threat to the peoples of the Pacific.
Tuiloma Neroni Slade was speaking at the opening of the 44th Pacific Islands Forum summit underway in Majuro in the Marshall Islands.
The leaders of 15 Pacific countries will meet over the next two days.
The theme for this year's summit is Marshalling the Pacific response to the Climate Challenge.
Mr Slade says climate change threatens the livelihoods, security and well being of the peoples of the Pacific.
"With the recent experience of the Marshall Islands only a few short months ago of severe drought and tidal inundation, the theme for this year's Forum meeting is most aptly on the mark."
Tuiloma Neroni Slade also thanked the outgoing chair, Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna, for his outstanding leadership and dedication to the work of the Forum over the past year.
The chair will now go to the Marshall Islands President, Chris Loeak.