Tuvalu Speaker wins Cremer-Passy Prize as the IPU’s MP of the year
The 2023 Cremer-Passy Prize, the MP of the year award, has been awarded to Mr. Samuelu Penitala Teo, Speaker of the Parliament of Tuvalu, in recognition of his outstanding record on climate action.
Mr. Teo was awarded the prize in a special ceremony at the 147th IPU Assembly in Luanda, Angola in front of hundreds of lawmakers from around the world.
Mr. Teo has been a tireless advocate of climate action since 1998 when he first became an MP in the Parliament of Tuvalu.
Tuvalu has regularly been called the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to climate change. Its population of 11,600 people live on nine pacific atolls which lie only three metres above sea level. Global warming in recent years has led to more heat waves, intense cyclones, saline intrusion and extensive flooding, causing many of the islanders to migrate.
Mr. Teo has raised awareness of the climate vulnerability of his country throughout his political career. He became Minister for Natural Resources in 2015, followed by his nomination as Special Envoy on Climate Change and then Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Reduction. In 2019, he became Speaker of the small Parliament of only 16 members.
He has spoken passionately in many international forums, especially the annual COP climate talks, and during the IPU’s parliamentary meetings worldwide.
Thanks to Teo’s leadership, the Parliament of Tuvalu is playing a key role in putting in place disaster risk reduction policies. Tuvalu has established the Climate Change and Disaster Survival Fund to help people worst affected. The country is also building sea walls and elevating the land by dredging its lagoons.
The Cremer-Passy Prize is open to any sitting parliamentarians who make an outstanding contribution to the defence and promotion of the IPU’s objectives, as well as those “who contribute to a more united, peaceful, sustainable and equitable world”.
In 2022, the inaugural Prize was awarded as an exception to two nominees, one woman and a group led by a man, to underscore the importance of gender equality at the IPU. Ms. Cynthia Lopez Castro of Mexico, and the Chairman and all the members of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine were awarded the prize at the 145th IPU Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda.
This year, in view of the IPU’s recent launch of its climate campaign, Parliaments for the Planet, nominees had to demonstrate a first-class track record of parliamentary action on climate change.
Nominations for the prize are made by the IPU’s six geopolitical groups, which submit one candidate from their region with a second nomination as an alternate.
Mr. Teo was nominated by the IPU’s Asia-Pacific Group, currently chaired by Australia.