“We must strengthen the resilience of our communities” – Climate Champion’s Speech at the Resilient Cities Congress

Ni sa bula vinaka and a very good evening to you all.

It is my pleasure to be here this evening among a group of very dynamic individuals and organisations, determinedly driving towards the common objective to make our cities and towns more resilient.

And this is such an important focus given the broad cross-cutting implications of climate change impacts on our cities and towns.

We all know that cities are not only concrete and steel. The fabric of a city is the people and their way of life. Weaved into this fabric are the flora, fauna, and culture which are continually evolving.

Therefore, when we engage in discussions on the vulnerability of our cities, we quickly realise that the stakes are quite high. High in terms of the widespread and far reaching impacts that climate change will have on cities. This underscores the importance of creating more resilient cities and the work you are currently engaged in. And equally essential is the sharing your experiences and knowledge. This brings me to an important process that calls for this – the talanoa dialogue

Ladies and gentlemen,

As you are aware – the talanoa dialogue sets out to engage with all stakeholders – both Parties and non-Parties.

Everyone is invited to share their experiences, their achievements, challenges, solutions, innovations and visions that will inspire, provoke, and drive countries to increase ambition. Ambition for both pre-2020 and post 2020 action. The bottom line is the urgency to act and to act now.

The talanoa dialogue will take stock of our efforts and provide directions and potential solutions to catalyse the push for maximum ambition so that we can achieve the aims of the Paris Agreement.

Therefore, the stories that you share in the Talanoa Dialogue should inspire and fire up both Parties and non-Parties to take necessary and concrete action.

So where do we want to go?

The message of the Fijian Presidency has been very clear on this. We should aim for the more ambitious target of keeping temperature increase to within 1.5degree Celsius. This is vital for the survival of our small island communities and other vulnerable regions around the world.

The IPCC special report on the impacts of a 1.5degree Celsius global warming, coming out later this year, will have important findings that everyone should be made aware of and for policy-makers and politicians to heed.

We should take all efforts to sharply bend the alarming temperature trajectory we are currently on. And we can only do this if we act now.

We should strengthen the resilience of our communities, our cities, our infrastructure, our ecosystems, and our economies.

Remember – mitigation and adaptation are two sides of the same coin – we cannot meet our mitigation targets if we do not strengthen the resilience of the sectors that will ensure this. Natural, physical and social systems that are vulnerable will not be able to deliver on mitigation targets – at least not in the long-term. And our vulnerability will continue to increase if temperatures continue to soar.

Where we want to go is more vigorous collaboration and coordination between the adaptation and mitigation sectors to maximise on impacts that are far reaching.

This will also mean strengthened and expanded partnerships among different agencies, including with financing institutions and investors.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am well aware that there are strong stories in this room that can help flesh out the issues I have just mentioned. I urge you to share these stories not only among yourselves but with everyone else.

This is what the Talanoa Dialogue aims to do – to bring together a diverse set of stakeholders to exchange experiences, knowledge and ideas and to learn and better understand one another.

For those of you who had participated in the previous webinars on the Talanoa Dialogue, you would know that the Dialogue needs to be conducted in an open, transparent, inclusive, and participatory manner.

When we talanoa, everyone constructively contributes, everyone respectfully listens, and everyone openly engages to collectively identify solutions and to take action to address the problem at hand.

This atmosphere of consensus and solution building is created through a common understanding and respect for each other’s stories and contributions. It cannot be undertaken when there is blaming, finger pointing and shaming.

On Sunday 06 May, six talanoa groups will convene to discuss each of the three core questions.

Each talanoa group will have representatives coming from different geographical and economic regions, sectors working in both mitigation and adaptation, and different organisations, companies and institutions.

I hope that partners in the room who will be engaging in the talanoa dialogue on Sunday will come prepared with strong and inspiring stories.

For those who cannot participate, you still have the opportunity to share your stories through the Talanoa Portal.

In closing, I would like to congratulate ICLEI for their immense effort in coordinating and driving forward this important work for resilient cities and territories.

I would also like to thank Mayor Sridharan for hosting this event and for your warm reception whenever I visit your beautiful city.

I wish you all an enjoyable evening and a productive talanoa.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.