The head of the region's environmental agency SPREP has given the outgoing president of Kiribati Anote Tong a special award for regional leadership on climate change.
Mr Tong steps down from the presidency next month after having served the maximum three terms in office.
Kosi Latu sayid Mr Tong had been a leading voice for the region and sometimes a lone voice in the wilderness.
He saysid region should make use of the connections Mr Tong created.
"My concern was that when he finishes his term in about three weeks I don't want to see us lose the experience, the knowledge, the networks that he has gained.
"He's opened doors, he's got the influence."
Mr Latu said there were other leaders like Tuvalu's Enele Sopoaga to carry on Mr Tong's work.