“We have looked into the eyes of our NDCs and found them wanting” – COP23 President’s Closing Remarks at CAPP2018

Prime Minister and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama’s closing remarks at the second Climate Action Pacific Partnership Conference. 

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

I would like to thank all of you for the energy, commitment and dynamic thinking you have brought to this meeting—and for your spirit of sharing and collaboration. Once again, we have shown that we Pacific Islanders are made of strong stuff. We will come together to meet any challenge that confronts us, and we will prevail.

Yesterday, I laid out the challenge before us in very stark terms – that we have looked into the eyes of our NDCs and the NDCs of other countries and found them wanting. I said that this was the time for us to make our voices heard as leaders of the most vulnerable nations. To use what moral authority we have to help the world see the wisdom in embracing the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement, and in achieving economies with net-zero emissions of heat trapping greenhouse gases as soon as possible.

Today, I can happily say I have never been more confident that there is momentum here in the Pacific to confront the climate threat, and that we have accelerated it over the last two days. The energy and drive that I felt at this conference was even greater than a year ago. It was fuelled by a year in which we have worked hard on both practical and political grounds.

We have been developing practical solutions for mitigation, adaptation, resilience and financing. For example, we can all be proud that the idea for a Pacific NDC Hub, which was conceived at the inaugural CAPP last year, is now to be a reality. It’s been colourfully described as being both like Wikipedia and an online dating service. I’m not sure about that last one – maybe it’s a generational thing – but I think we all agree it will certainly help us to continually strengthen our own NDCs and bring them to life using the latest ideas, experience and technologies from here and around the world.

While we are grateful for the support from those developed countries helping us establish the Hub, the Honourable Prime Minister of Tuvalu reminded us that these kinds of initiatives do not relieve any country of its responsibility to strengthen its NDC.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, Here at the GPH, and at the Pacific Leaders Talanoa Dialogue yesterday afternoon, we have not just been celebrating our partnership. We have been finding and institutionalising ways to better coordinate and cooperate in our efforts.

As we are all well aware, the values and benefits of regional and global cooperation are under immense assault right now. Yet here we are showing the world how it’s done.

We have engaged in positive and principled dialogue and explored both the outcomes and the potential of powerful and meaningful partnerships, such as the High Ambition Coalition, the Ocean Pathway Partnership and the Powering Past Coal Alliance, to give just a few examples.

Yesterday, the Pacific Leaders Talanoa Dialogue produced more powerful stories reminding us of the human impact of climate change. We heard stories of countries rolling up their sleeves to build more resilient and net-zero-emission economies by 2050. We were reminded that those not doing so were simply asking others to do more. We heard of the importance of engaging community and business groups in building local partnerships that strengthen climate action — action that governments must support over the years and decades to come.

We heard again that keeping warming to 1.5 degrees remains possible, but that it will require much stronger NDCs, significantly increased efficiency and much larger flows of climate finance.

And many reminded the group that the Implementation Guidelines must be completed at COP24. And that there must also be a continued focus on delivering the investment commitments that have been made, as well as on the important issue of loss and damage.

In the rest of the conference, we explored various opportunities and challenges in relation to the actions we need to take and the investments we need to make in order to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible, to protect our oceans and strengthen the resilience of Pacific countries. We discussed and dissected the entire range of subjects, including gender issues, food security, new technology, ocean health, adaptation strategies — and of course, the key to our efforts to increase our ambition and adapt effectively: financing and insurance. Governments, international financial institutions and the private sector must accelerate the pace of work to create mechanisms that can produce solutions at the scale we need in our island nations.

Friends, I have been delighted by your support for the Climate Action Pacific Partnership, not only for these CAPP conferences, but also for your meaningful participation in the working group processes.  The outcomes it has already generated speak for themselves. I am even more delighted that Pacific island countries and territories, as well as donor countries, have expressed their desire for the CAPP to continue beyond Fiji’s COP23 Presidency and I assure you that we will work to achieve this.

The ideas and experiences that we shared will not remain here. With your support, as ambassadors and friends of the Talanoa Dialogue, they will go forward and form part of the increasing pool of worldwide wisdom on how to respond to climate change. Specifically, they will help shape the global political leaders’ Talanoa Dialogue at COP24 – to be co-chaired by Fiji and Poland – which we all know is a critical moment in the history of the UN climate negotiations.

This will be our chance to reassure the global community that the political will exists to keep the goals of the Paris Agreement within reach. And most importantly, it is a chance to reassure the world that we have brought together the visionary leadership needed to stem the most destructive and terrifying effects of climate change, which will come if we continue at our current pace.

As I said when we opened this conference, we have a chance to lead, and a duty to lead. We must be united. And we must make our voice heard. The work does not stop here. It continues in the coming months in the lead-up to Katowice. And it continues on the long path beyond that.

To the many experts who brought a vast storehouse of knowledge to Suva this week, I say thank you—for your thoughtful presentations before the larger group and for the many informal discussions over dinners, during breaks and on the terrace and in the lounges and lobby until late at night. There are hundreds of specialised areas in understanding and responding to climate change, and only by putting them together in a coherent and well-managed whole will we be able to save this Earth.

I would like to offer a special thanks to my fellow Pacific leaders for being here. It is a distinct honour for me to represent you as the COP23 President. I have greatly appreciated your support, and as we move toward the end of the Fijian presidency and the passing of the baton to Poland, your active participation will be especially important.

I hope to see many of you at the Global Climate Action Summit in California and the UN General Assembly, where we will once again observe Climate Week. And, of course, at Katowice in December.

Once again, I would like to thank the governments of Australia, Canada, France and Germany for their financial support for this conference, and to the many governments and international institutions that have supported Fiji’s presidency.

My thanks go to the entire team that organised the program and the logistics for this conference—the staff of the COP23 Presidency Secretariat, headed by John Connor. An event like this succeeds or fails because a group of people take full command of everything from producing a meaningful programme to ensuring hundreds of details are executed. If they do their job, no one notices. We just take a smooth conference for granted. And I also want to thank our Climate Champion –the Honourable Inia Seruiratu, who has truly championed the cause the world over.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am confident and hopeful as we go forward to California, New York and Katowice. And I am confident that we, as a global community, are coming to grips with the practical requirements of responding to climate change. There is much to be done, and we have a long road ahead, but let’s keep doing what we need to do, together, united for a better future for the Pacific and for the world.

I now have the pleasure to formally close the Climate Action Pacific Partnership Conference.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.