18/10/17

The Notion of a Talanoa Dialogue Seems to Have Already Been Embraced – Pre-COP Closing

We bring to a close the Pre-COP for COP23 having already achieved a great deal of progress in advancing our collective agenda. And I’m sure you’ll all agree that we are going to Bonn in just under three weeks time in the best possible position to make COP23 itself a success.

It’s always tempting at these gatherings to declare a success on the basis of what happens in the room. But we must aim higher than this. We must make a genuine connection between what has happened in this room and the lives of the people we represent. Only then can we claim real success.

I want to say how gratified and pleased I am as incoming COP president at the overwhelmingly positive comments I have received from so many of you about this Pre-COP. As I understand it, it has been very different from previous gatherings of this kind. It is different because more people are here – more nations and more members from the wider Grand Coalition. It is different because we added the Partnership Days to give practical meaning to our vision of a Grand Coalition. And it is different because of where we are – in the heart of one of the most vulnerable regions on earth.

It is also different because of the site visits we are organising to give you a first-hand experience of the day-to-day challenges our people are facing because of climate change. We needed you to come here to see it and feel it for yourselves. And I am sure that many of you will leave with a much better understanding of what is at stake.

I’m also hoping that the winners of our Pacific photographic competition whose images will go up on our COP website today, will also draw global attention to the urgency of tackling what we face. And I urge you all to log on to “cop23.com.fj” to see some compelling images.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, so while this is a warm-up for Bonn, it turns out that we have done much more together to bring to life the commitments made in Paris two years ago. Bringing the Pre-COP to Fiji and widening its scope has also had a very beneficial impact on the understanding of Fijians and Pacific Islanders generally about this process and its relevance to their lives.

I wondered whether COP would really fire the imaginations of my own people. Whether this would be seen as just another conference in Fiji in a great location that had little relevance to ordinary people. But one of the best things about the Fijian presidency in my mind so far is that we are already making a difference at home. Imaginations have been fired. We are bringing the Paris Agreement to Fiji and the Pacific.

Yesterday, it was brought home to me just how much we are already doing to transform the lives of ordinary people. We announced the Fiji Rural Electrification Fund backed by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation that will bring the latest clean power technologies to communities that have either had no power or only two or three hours a day of diesel generated power. What a wonderful advance this promises to so many of our people.

Yesterday also reminded me of the absolute importance of our Grand Coalition in getting things done. At the signing ceremony, the turaga ni koro – the head man of the first village to benefit; my Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Climate Change; the representative of a Californian foundation set up by a movie star and renowned climate advocate; a Fijian private sector developer of solar energy; our own Fijian Electricity Authority; a local community based NGO; and me. All of us totally committed to connecting your work in the negotiations with tangible benefits in the real world.

After we leave here, I will be launching another Green finance initiative – our own sovereign Green Bond – the first in any emerging economy and only the third in the world.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, that is what has fired the imaginations of our own people about what is possible. And let us all endeavour to replicate that model of partnership throughout the world. I called at the start of the Pre-COP for everyone to do good work. And I’m very pleased to be told that good work has been done.

I want to thank all those who have made this event so special. The UN Deputy Secretary General, The Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, the President of COP22, the future President of COP24, heads of state and government, ministers, heads of delegation, representatives of governments at all levels, civil society and the private sector – our partners in the Grand Coalition.

I also want to thank my Special Envoy for States and Regions, the members of my excellent team – my Chief Negotiator, my Climate Champion, my Climate Ambassador. And I want to make special mention of the Head of the COP Secretariat and his hard-working team. Plus every single individual who has contributed to both the substance and the organisation that has made this gathering a success. Vinaka vakalevu.

To all of you in the room: We have heard you and we very much appreciate the trust you have put in us to advance the negotiations in Bonn, as well as carry forward the Talanoa Dialogue throughout next year. As I said yesterday, the notion of a Talanoa Dialogue seems to have already been embraced. So let us go to Bonn with that spirit. And let’s get this job done.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.