“We can all be proud as Pacific Islanders that our Talanoa concept has captured the imagination of the whole world”

Bula vinaka,
Kia ora koutou
Dzień dobry (jayn DOH-bry)
and a good afternoon to you all.

I am delighted to be here with you this afternoon, as the high-level Champion for Global Climate Action, to represent our Honourable Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, at the opening of this Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion here in Katowice.

The Prime Minister apologises for not being here himself but he has asked me to convey his warmest greetings and best wishes for the success of our joint effort over the next two weeks.

This pavilion is a unique Pacific Partnership between Fiji’s COP23 Presidency, New Zealand and our Pacific regional organisations. And I want to thank all of you who have worked so hard to make this initiative possible – a temporary slice of the Pacific in the heart of Poland.

It may be chilly outside but I think we’ve all been struck by the warmth of the Polish people and the welcome they have given us.

And we certainly intend to provide the warmest of Pacific welcomes to the many thousands of people who’ll be visiting us here in the coming days.

The Pavilion is being jointly managed by SPREP – the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme – and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Development Forum.

And I want to especially acknowledge all of these agencies for the great partnership we have all forged as we highlight the particular vulnerability of Pacific Islanders to climate change and spread the word about our collective and individual mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Vinaka vakalevu for all you have done to assist our campaign; and to highlight to the world how critical it is for us in the Pacific that global warming is kept to within 1.5 degrees and that the world achieves net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

A special thank you too to the Government of New Zealand, for your financial assistance and for the support of your staff that has made this Pavilion possible. We also thank you for your own commitment to the climate struggle – for truly standing shoulder to shoulder with your island neighbours, especially under the government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who we look forward to welcoming to Fiji in the coming months.

For those of you who may be wondering where the word “Koronivia” comes from, it is the name of the place outside Suva where for many years, the Fijian Government has had an agricultural research and training station and where many prominent Pacific agriculturists received their first training.

So it is fitting that the Koronivia Joint Work Plan on Agriculture is named after this site given its history in developing new innovations and strengthening capacities of small island developing countries.

The Koronivia Workplan aims to identify, develop and implement effective strategies for climate adaptation and mitigation within the agricultural sector to achieve overall resilience against the impacts of climate change. This Koronivia Pavilion will showcase many innovative climate smart technologies and approaches in the agriculture sector and these innovations can will help strengthen the Koronivia Workplan and contribute to its implementation.

Another focus of the Pavilion is – the Ocean. DuringCOP23 last year, the Oceans Pathway Partnership was launched and is currently co-chaired by Fiji and Sweden. The overall purpose of the Partnership is to strengthen the link between the ocean and climate. Events in this pavilion will be highlighting this ocean– climate nexus. Different partners will showcase the scientific, social, ecological and economic implications of this relationship. All of it critically important for Pacific Islanders, especially given how culturally and economically closely connected we are to the ocean.

In closing, I want to say that while Fiji formally handed over the presidency of COP to Poland today, we intend to continue to play a leadership role in the climate struggle. And especially through the Talanoa Dialogues that have been taking place all over the world and the Ministerial roundtable that we will have next week.

I think we can all be proud as Pacific Islanders that our Talanoa concept of inclusive and respectful engagement to raise ambition has captured the imagination of the whole world. And it’s certainly a wonderful legacy of the Fijian presidency.

So with those words, ladies and gentlemen, I have the great pleasure to welcome you all this afternoon and encourage you to actively engage in open and constructive talanoa over the next two weeks.

Vinaka vakalevu. Dziękuję. Thank you.