His Excellency Anote Tong is the former President of the Republic of Kiribati. He was first elected as President on 10 July 2003 and subsequently won two more elections in 2007 and in 2012. His last term ended in mid-2015. Since then, Anote Tong has continued his climate advocacy, in particular with regards to small island states in the Pacific. Since April 2017 he also serves as Ambassador for the New Shape Prize of the Global Challenges Foundation.
Anote Tong was born in 1952 on Fanning Island (also known as Tabuaeran) in the Line Islands.
Educated in New Zealand and in England at the University of Canterbury and the London School of Economics respectively, President Tong holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Economics under his belt.
Mr. Tong has a distinguished record of service in Kiribati’s public administration, including positions as Senior Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Education from 1976 to 1977, and Secretary for the Ministry of Communication and Works from 1980 to 1982. Entering politics in 1994, he became a prominent member of the Pillars of Truth Party, and served as Minister for Natural Resources Development from 1994 to 1996, after which he was elected to Kiribati’s House of Assembly between 1996 to 2003. In 2016, at the end of his last term as President, he retired from politics.
Mr. Tong has also been part of public life as chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, chairman of the National Fishing Company, the Development Bank of Kiribati, the Otintaai Hotel and the national flag carrier airline Air Tungaru.
During his presidency, President Anote Tong became a strong climate change advocate and has continued his work to build worldwide awareness of the potentially devastating impacts of climate change.
He has stated on many occasions that Kiribati may cease to exist altogether and that its entire population may need to be resettled not as climate change refugees but as citizens who migrate on merit and with dignity.
With one of the lowest carbon-emission footprints in the world, Mr. Tong has often described Kiribati as a “frontline country” that has been among the first to experience dramatic climate change impacts.
As an extraordinary measure to set an example for the rest of the world, Mr. Tong created the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, one of the largest marine protected areas in the world with a size of 408,250 square kilometers which was inscribed as a United Nations World Heritage site in 2008.
Mr. Tong has won a number of awards and recognition that acknowledges his contribution and leadership on climate change and ocean conservation.