“Our Interests in Fiji are Actually your Interests in Germany” – President at the Opening of the Bonn Zone

Bula vinaka, guten abend and a very good evening to you all.

The creation from scratch of a new community here on the banks of the Rhine is a remarkable achievement. Set in parkland open to the public, this zone and the events here over the next two weeks are allowing us to strongly communicate the spirit and purpose of COP.

As I said at the opening ceremony this morning, I intend to spend a good deal of time down here in this community – a community of action and commitment.

As my predecessor – the President of COP22 – wisely said this morning: Negotiations are important but actions are more important. We’re in the action zone. And already, you can feel that it’s a place of energy and purpose.

Up there in the Bula Zone, there’s no doubt there is power in the room to make rules and make a difference. But, friends, don’t underestimate the power down here.

In the Bonn Zone, we have the power of ideas, the power of organisation, the power of partnerships. And as the slogans all over the COP site say, we intend to tackle the challenge that lies before us by moving further, faster, together.

Friends, it’s also a time to remind ourselves what our real interests are as nations and as people – representatives of humanity as a whole.

My interests in Fiji are actually your interests in Germany. Because our interests are in reducing the risk to us both and the entire world from the impacts of climate change.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We must make the most vulnerable our guides to the level of ambition we set. And to political leaders who say they want to put their nation first I say: putting your nation first in the face of this challenge means locking arms with every nation in complete solidarity. Because no nation can protect itself from climate change on its own.

Friends, we are all in the same canoe, no matter where we live in the world. And what’s right for nations is also right for every level of government and throughout society. We must build this Grand Coalition that is the centerpiece of Fiji’s presidency.

In the Bonn Zone, we see mayors, officials and administrators from other levels of government. We
see civil society in all its forms. We see business and academia. We see faith-based organisations in all their diversity. And finally and wonderfully, many ordinary citizens from all over the world and especially the young – our future.

Friends, this is a place of enthusiasm and conviction. People are meeting here to get things done. There is ingenuity and innovation all around us. There are signposts to a future that is genuinely sustainable, not just a catchphrase.

That is why I am beginning my term as COP President with such a strong feeling of optimism. And it’s up to all of you to keep me optimistic all the way to the end.

I know it’s going to be tough but I will not be deterred. Because I know that I am surrounded by people with the same determination and will to succeed.

The line-up on this podium represents effective global cooperation – Germany, the United Nations and Fiji combining forces to put on a big event. Its purpose is to mobilise political, financial and organisational power to meet the most ambitious target of the Paris Agreement.

Friends, you only had to hear the scientific evidence presented to us this morning to know, in your head and your heart, a simple truth. That we must use whatever resources we have available to us, whoever we are, wherever we are, to stop polluting the atmosphere at this rate.

So in the next two weeks – in this place – let us come together to turn necessity into opportunity. Let us find the many ways to prosper by fixing this problem. Let us share experiences on how to tread more lightly on this planet. Let us listen to the best of ourselves. And let us leave confident that we will do what we must do. Because we can.

Vinaka vakalevu, danker shon, thank you.