Fijian Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Disaster Management and Meteorological Services and Transport, Jone Usamate delivered Fiji’s National Statement at the first day of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Assembly that is currently being convened at the IMO headquarters in London.
In his speech, Usamate stated that the challenge we face today is very different from that which our early sailors and explorers faced; which basically was to sustain themselves and maximise the use of their limited resources in the small Pacific islands that they occupied.
“Today however, our greatest challenge in the Pacific is the changes to climate that we mankind are inflicting upon ourselves. More intense cyclones, sea level rise, acidification coupled with illegal, unreported fishing and plastic waste; all the things that are destroying life in the Pacific” the Hon. Minister highlighted.
Usamate acknowledged the initiatives spearheaded by IMO in addressing the challenge of greenhouse gas emissions, with the aim of developing greener shipping.
The Minister highlighted that being the only Small Island Developing State that have hosted the Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP23), Fiji recognises the huge contribution that international shipping can play in reducing global GHG emissions in reaching the Paris Agreement temperature goals.
The Minister challenged his fellow Ministers of the need to adopt and implement measures before 2023, to put the sector on a pathway consistent with a target of limiting increase of global temperatures to no more than 1.5degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.
Usamate also expressed Fiji’s appreciation for the successful Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC Pacific) that is currently hosted in Fiji. As a project aimed at reducing GHG emissions in the Pacific islands, the Minister added that the MTCC pacific is an example of the kind of collaboration needed to achieve our SDG commitments and promote decarbonisation at the speed needed.
Given the distance of the IMO headquarters from most small states, Fiji suggested that IMO consider having some future IMO meetings in our part of the world, as it would provide an opportunity to understand and experience the challenges that we face in Fiji and the Pacific SIDs.
The Minister conveyed Fiji’s gratitude to the Secretary General, for being the first ever Secretary General of IMO to visit Fiji.
Minister Usamate also held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Netherlands and Bahamas on the margins of the Assembly.
Fiji is currently co-chairing a coalition of Pacific Member States with the Republic of the Marshall Island, aiming at reducing emissions through the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership.
The Minister reaffirmed Fiji’s position to maintain a closed ship registry.