Fiji has called for stronger commitment and collaboration among the Commonwealth nations in driving comprehensive action to combat climate change and realisation of the future towards net zero emissions and resilient societies.
This message was articulated by the Fijian Prime Minister, Honourable Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama while delivering a statement today at the first virtual Commonwealth Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change.
Prime Minister Bainimarama spoke on the challenges faced by Fiji in relation to climate change and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Fiji doesn’t have any local cases of the coronavirus. Our people are safe. But our economy, which relies heavily on tourism, has been badly stricken, sapping Government revenues at a time when we need every dollar we can dedicate to building our resilience.
“Since the closure of our borders last year Fiji has endured cyclones Harold, Yasa and Ana.
The one-two punch of a global economic crisis and a continuing climate emergency has been brutal. We are building back better in any and every way that we can.
But that good work hinges on a global economic recovery that is not only inclusive, but which transforms the way our multilateral system confronts global challenges,”
Prime Minister Bainimarama said. Prime Minister highlighted the progressive steps taken by Fiji to Building Back Better and initiatives to strengthen climate resilience.
“The weekend before Commonwealth Day, Fiji took receipt of our first batch of COVID-19 vaccines. Thanks to these medical marvels, a new dawn of hope is on the horizon.
But our recovery won’t mean much if our “new normal” does not signal a new relationship between us, humanity, and the natural world we all rely on. Otherwise, we’re trading out one crisis, COVID-19, for another of far deadlier potential, the Climate Emergency.” “In cyclone-devastated communities, we have rebuilt schools and infrastructure to climate-resilient standards.
We have improved disaster warning systems. We are using nature to fortify communities, by planting mangroves and vetiver grass, and harnessing local materials, like boulders, to build seawalls.
“And our commitment to plant 30 million trees in 15 years and sustainably manage all 1.3 million square kilometres of our ocean by 2030 could very well mean Fiji becomes a carbon-negative society in the not-too-distant future.” Elaborating on the important role that Commonwealth parliamentarians play in the realisation of climate actions, Prime Minister Bainimarama said,
“When we unite behind the hard work of forging common ground, we provide a foundation for global co-operation and wide-reaching change. If we don’t all commit to carbon-neutrality; if we fail the most climate-vulnerable among our number; what sort of example are we setting for the world?
“The most recent reporting from the United Nations shows just how badly off-track we are from the commitments we need to achieve the 1.5- degree Celsius target of the Paris Agreement. COP26 – and the commitments it demands – cannot come soon enough. We need decisive cuts in carbon emissions by 2030 that set us on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050. “
And we need that ambition backed by action, in a manner that is accountable to our community of nations. As Fiji has championed time and again, we must also recognise the role that our oceans play in regulating our climate, and preserve them as pillars of our global Blue economy.”
In the buildup to the upcoming 26th UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change, the Forum aims to connect parliamentarians and climate experts from across the Commonwealth, to share best practice, identify the strong commitments needed, and highlight the role parliamentarians play in prioritising the climate agenda, through holding their governments to account.