08/11/17

“Climate change is not the greatest threat of our time, it is the greatest threat of all time” – Climate Champion Remarks at Pacific Youth Dialogue on Climate Change

Bula vinaka  – Guten Tag –  and a very good afternoon to you all.

It’s a great pleasure to be with you to introduce this important inter-generational dialogue during youth day in the Fiji Pavilion, our Fijian Village here in Bonn. Although we are only on day three of COP, the level of engagement and commitment I’ve witnessed by young people from around the world has already left an impression on me.

Their demands – your demands – that the leaders gathered here in Bonn should accelerate their efforts has an urgency and sincerity that we simply cannot ignore.  Your passion to hold us to account, your energy and your optimism, gives me a great sense of responsibility as Fiji’s High-Level Climate Champion. It also gives me reassurance – a hope that no matter how daunting the challenges ahead of us, we have a new generation of leaders already emerging, ready to face these challenges head on.

And so as current leaders, we must not be found wanting. Any delay or hesitation on our part – however minor it might seem now – can have extreme and damaging reverberations in the future. Let us be very clear about this. Climate change is not the greatest threat of our time, it is the greatest threat of all time. Those with the power to act, must act. Not doing so is the greatest possible betrayal of future generations.

But as far as I’m concerned, this is not a matter of “us” and “them” – of “us” and “you.” It’s a matter of “we.” It’s a matter of everybody – of all generations – coming together for climate action, further and faster. Everybody has to take ownership, everybody has to contribute, and everybody has to work together. This is what the Grand Coalition is all about. We are all in the same canoe, and we will either sink or sail together.

Younger members of the Coalition have an important role to play by taking on leadership roles in their communities and being proactive advocates for the issues they are passionate about.  They must not be off on the side as observers; we need them at the very centre of the momentum for change, as catalysts, as movers and shakers.

For our part, the older members of the Coalition must make the space for this to happen. We must have the humility and trust to acknowledge that young people have a critical role to play and have things to teach us. Young people have ideas and perspectives that prompt us to view situations differently – to come up with new and creative solutions. We in turn we must make the effort, each and every day, to share our skills and experiences with this new generation of climate warriors – to help them become the leaders the world will need – the leaders whom the world will depend on to save us from the greatest threat that humankind has ever faced.

And so, in that spirit ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all a very productive dialogue today – one in which all sides listen and learn.

I would like to thank IRD and its partners for all the effort that has gone into organising this Presidency-endorsed event. And of course, many thanks to all my friends and colleagues on the panel for their participation in this important talanoa.

Let’s all unite for climate action – further, faster, together.

Vinaka vakalevu; Danke Schoen, Thank you