New Zealand’s new leader, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, tells CNN that her country must be prepared to take in “climate change refugees” from surrounding island nations.
“We need to acknowledge that we are, unless we make dramatic changes, at the front of seeing refugees as a result of climate change,” Arden told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview, her first since taking office last Thursday.
“We see a duty of care there – both to champion internationally the importance of acknowledging and responding to climate change, but also doing our bit.”
The country currently takes in about 750 refugees each year, per United Nations mandates, according to the government.
“We’re looking to ways to build in the responsibility we have on climate change and the way that we approach, potentially, climate change refuges in the future amongst our neighbors,” said the prime minister.
In order to govern, Ardern’s Labour Party entered into coalition with a conservative, anti-immigration New Zealand First Party.
She denied, however, that her government’s policy would be affected in the area of refugees, saying she had worked “very hard” to build consensus, and was committed on doubling the country’s refugee quota.
’Never too late’ to talk with North Korea
Ardern takes office at a dangerous time in her region.
US President Donald Trump’s upcoming trip to Asia (though not New Zealand) is expected to focus extensively on North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programs.
A senior North Korean official told CNN’s Will Ripley in Pyongyang last week that the world should take “literally” a warning from North Korea’s foreign minister about a possible “strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean.”
Ardern said her policy was simple: “It’s never too late to talk.”
“That is a message we’ll continue to send on the international stage,” while encouraging multilateral “dialogue.”
Questioning women in the workplace
At 37, Ardern is New Zealand’s youngest leader in 150 years, and its third female prime minister.
She has spoken openly about being a mother, but has forcefully condemned the idea that women should be questioned about how they balance work and home life. “Certainly it is an issue that’s come up for me personally in the role that I have in politics time and time again,” she told Amanpour.
“It will continue to be so until we speak only about the fact that it’s a woman’s decision when to chooses to have a family. It should not be something that’s raised when her future career prospects are speculated on or even if she enters into a job opportunity or an interview.”