By Rita Joshi
BONN (IDN) – The Fijian Prime Minister and incoming President of COP 23, Frank Bainimarama, has vowed to advance the work of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and “preserve the multilateral consensus for decisive action to address the underlying causes of climate change, respecting climate science.”
Bainimarama made the pledge in an address to delegates at the start of the closing plenary of May 18 at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn held some six months ahead of the 23rd annual session of parties to the UNFCCC.
For a small nation like Fiji with limited capacity and a tropical cyclone last year that wiped out one third of our GDP, this Presidency is a financial challenge, he said, and thanked the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, “and her entire team for the support they are giving Fiji.” He paid a “special tribute to the Government and people of Germany for their wonderful gesture facilitating COP23 being held here in the beautiful city of Bonn.”
He warmly acknowledged the support of all nations that have already contributed to Fiji’s Presidency – China, the United States, the European Union and Germany and organisations such as the German Development Agency, the UNDP and the Asian Development Bank. Australia has also made a significant contribution.
This has enabled Fiji to become the first Small Island Developing State to assume the Presidency of this very important process, which encompasses the formal negotiations and the partnerships for action, he added.
“By extending a hand of friendship to Fijians and Pacific Islanders, Germany is empowering us and giving us a voice that we would never have had without that assistance,” the Fijian Prime Minister stressed.
He pledged to uphold and advance the Paris Agreement, ensure progress on the implementation guidelines and undertake consultations together with the Moroccan COP22 Presidency to design the process for the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.
Fiji is also committed to building greater resilience for all vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and rising sea levels; to enable access to climate adaptation finance, renewable energy, clean water and affordable climate risk and disaster insurance; and to promote sustainable agriculture.
The Fijian Prime Minister said, as the COP23 incoming President he would seek to “forge a grand coalition to accelerate climate action before 2020 and beyond between civil society, the scientific community, the private sector and all levels of government, including cities and regions.”
Another aspect of his COP23 Vision is to harness innovation, enterprise and investment to fast track the development and deployment of climate solutions that will build future economies with net zero greenhouse gas emissions, in an effort to limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Bainimarama also wants to draw a stronger link between the health of the world’s oceans and seas and the impacts of, and solutions to, climate change as part of a holistic approach to the protection of our planet.
The Fijian Prime Minister explained yet another aspect of his vision: “To infuse COP23 with the Fijian ‘Bula Spirit’ of inclusiveness, friendliness and solidarity and promote the Pacific concept.”
He added: “This is a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue that builds empathy and leads to decision making for the collective good. It is not about finger pointing and laying blame but is about listening to each other, learning from each other, sharing stories, skills and experiences. By focusing on the benefits of action, this process will move the global climate agenda forward.”
In summary, Fiji’s vision is for a Presidency that is transparent and inclusive of all, advances the 2016 Paris Agreement and accelerates climate action for all vulnerable societies, drawing on our own experiences as a Small Island Developing State in the Pacific. [IDN-InDepthNews – 23 May 2017]
Photo: On 22 September 2014, Frank Bainimarama was sworn-in as the Prime Minister of Fiji. Credit: Alchetron
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
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