The United Nations Secretary General has praised Pacific nations for leading the fight against climate change.

Ban Ki-moon made the comment after talks with Pacific leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

The Secretary General was presented with a copy of the Majuro Declaration, a climate change manifesto released by Pacific Islands Forum leaders following their meeting in Marshall Islands earlier this month.

"Pacific Islands are among those that contribute least to global warming, yet suffer most. I congratulate you on the adoption of the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership. I commend your resolve to be 'Climate Leaders' and I join you in your call to others [to lead through action]," Mr Ban said.

The Declaration also received US-backing, a move hailed by Marshall Islands President, Christopher Loeak.

"United States support for the Majuro Declaration could not be more welcome, and it is likely to spur action from others," Mr Loeak wrote in an article published in the New York Times.

The State of Hawai'i also became the first sub-national government to support the Declaration.

"The State of Hawai'i stands with island nations around the world in recognising the urgent threat of climate change. We have signed onto the Majuro Declaration to share our ambitious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through innovative energy transformation," Hawai'i Governor Neil Abercrombie said.

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