Fiji will continue to lead the Pacific campaign in addressing the impact of climate change and will use its leadership position to advance climate talks on the international stage.
This was highlighted by Fiji’s Head of Mission to the European Union and COP23 Climate Envoy to the UNFCCC, Ambassador Deo Saran at a conference in Hanover on ‘Climate Change Adaptation in Small Islands Developing States’.
Organised in partnership by the University of Göttingen and the Volkswagen Foundation of Germany, the event brings together senior government officials, diplomats, researchers, academics, analysts and scientists to contribute towards discussions on how SIDS continue to adapt to the impacts of climate change and the collective contributions made to address this.
As keynote speaker at the event speaking on behalf of the COP23 Presidency, Ambassador Saran highlighted the vulnerability of Pacific SIDS adding that “these extreme weather patterns impede economic development, hamper residents’ ability to access clean water, and destroy the soil that nations rely on for agriculture and fundamental food security.”
He pointed that whilst “the human, social, environmental and economic costs of inaction—or insufficient action—are unacceptable, but the Pacific Island states are moving forward with plans aimed at adapting and creating greater resilience to climate change.”
Ambassador Saran said that the solidarity amongst Pacific leaders on the issue is driving momentum amongst Pacific countries.
“From implementing national action plans, to pushing for global reductions in carbon emissions, the Pacific Islands are fortifying themselves against a changing climate, all while taking the lead to elevate the issue on the international stage. Islands have joined the Climate Vulnerable Forum; have ratified international climate change accords, like the Paris Climate Change Agreement; and widely advocate to limit temperature rise from global warming to one point five degree Celsius.”
Fiji’s Presidency of COP23 was the platform that Ambassador Saran stressed was being used by Fiji to advance and inform the international community on the vulnerability of Pacific SIDS.
“As the region of the world that is destined to bear the worst brunt of the effects of climate change, we have been given a crucial platform to put, not just Fiji’s case, but also that of other small islands developing states that are impacted by climate change”, Ambassador Saran said.
“Pacific islands leaders meeting at the Pacific Islands Development Forum summit in 2015 issued the Suva Declaration, a call to the world to take firmer action on climate change.”
At this event, Ambassador Saran also highlighted Fiji’s national climate action strategies adding that the contribution by her regional and international partners is encouraging and demonstrates the commitment by parties to fulfill the vision of the Paris Agreement.
“Fiji has a Green Growth Plan and has aggressively pursued and implemented policies to promote sustainable development in the country, all while partnering with the private sector and international organisations to elevate the issue on the global stage.”
In presenting Fiji’s national strategy, Ambassador Saran highlighted the Environment and Climate Adaptation Levy which was a feature of the 2018-2019 national budget and where revenue collected from this levy goes directly into climate related projects including meteorological services, cyclone rehabilitation, energy conservation, environmental conservation and agriculture and rural development.
Also present at the conference was Fijian academic and Associate Professor at the University of the South Pacific Dr Joeli Veitayaki who spoke about the Code of Conduct for Sustainable Island Development that he had developed which could also be used by other small island states. Dr Veitayaki also presented to the participants on the work that he is doing on Gau Island called “The Lomani Gau initiative on Gau Island, Fiji”.
The organisers of the event thanked Ambassador Saran for his contribution to the event and commended both Fiji and the COP23 Presidency for their efforts in bringing the plight of Pacific SIDS to the attention of the international community.