20/03/18

“We need to strengthen the resilience of our people, our environment, our infrastructure and our economies against the intensifying impacts of climate change.” – High-Level Climate Champion’s Speech at the Global Adaptation Network

Fiji’s High-Level Climate Champion, Minister Inia Seruiratu, reiterated the need for urgent action in strengthening the resilience of people, our environment, our infrastructure and our economies against the intensifying impacts of climate change at the opening of the 2nd Global Adaptation Network Forum in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

The 2nd Global Adaptation Network Forum addresses some of the most pressing challenges for climate change adaptation and provides an opportunity for decision makers, policy experts and practitioners to share their knowledge and experiences on how to address these challenges. 

The Global Adaptation Network Forum is a contribution to the Talanoa Dialogue and will provide inputs to the key questions that the dialogue is addressing: 1) Where are we? 2) Where do we want to go? 3) How do we get there?

In the spirit of Talanoa, the Forum fosters inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue on these questions in the context of climate adaptation and resilience.

The Forum also includes a regional Technical Examination Meeting on Adaptation (TEM-A) as a contribution to the Technical Examination Process on Adaptation (TEP-A) under the UNFCCC Adaptation Committee. The TEM-A will focus on adaptation action that reaches the most vulnerable. 

The Forum is organised jointly by UN Environment’s Global Adaptation Network and Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. Holding the Forum in Abu Dhabi provides an opportunity to consider some of the specific challenges in Gulf region, including how to ensure continued access to clean freshwater. The solutions developed in the region can be of relevance in other parts of the world.

TEXT OF SULL SPEECH BELOW:

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

It is my great pleasure to be here this morning to address you in the opening of this very important Forum.

Resilience is a topic that is close to my heart and a strong advocate for. The need to strengthen the resilience of our people, our environment, our infrastructure and our economies against the intensifying impacts of climate change can never be over-emphasised, especially for us from small island developing states.

Our changing climate brings with it tough and new challenges across the globe. However, these challenges have in some ways brought the world closer. Certain challenges that are very new to some regions are challenges that have already been faced for decades, and centuries, in other regions.

Therefore, there are tools and traditional knowledge already existing in certain parts of the world that can benefit other parts. Simple examples include traditional farming practices and cultivars that thrive in dry arid conditions that can be transferred to normally wet regions now facing prolonged droughts.

The same applies to technologies. For instance – progressive countries who have developed innovative and cost-effective water storage tools and technologies can share their skills and knowledge with isolated communities in normally wet regions who are now faced with water scarcity.

Friends

The four themes of this Forum, are – 1. From the Gulf to the World; 2. Adaptation metrics; 3. Adaptation Learning and 4. Reaching the most vulnerable.

This is what makes Forums such as this so important – bringing together experts like you from different sectors and organisations to not only share your knowledge and progress, but to also develop linkages between your sectors.

While the four themes may be discussed in parallel sessions, please bear in mind that there are connections among the four and I urge the organisers to try and weave the outcomes of the four themes to highlight its relationship with one another.

I would now like to share with you developments in Fiji that serves to drive our efforts to reach our most vulnerable and also highlights the importance of the private sector.

Financing is critical for climate action to take place and the Fiji COP23 Presidency at international platforms called for the high prioritisation of financing for adaptation in vulnerable developing countries. We followed through with this call at home with the establishment two notable instruments –

The first is the Fiji green bond which is a 100-million Fijian dollar bond – 50 million in US dollars, that was launched in October, 2017. By 1st November 40million Fijian dollars was issued as the first tranche in a series of green bond issuances that Fiji plans to make.

Projects financed from the Fiji green bond will focus primarily on investments that build resilience against the impacts of climate change including community climate adaptation projects. Fiji will also use bond proceeds to support the achievement of its current NDC target which is 100% renewable energy and 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector by 2030.

Fiji’s Green Bond makes Fiji the third country in the world; the first in the Southern Hemisphere; and the first from an emerging market economy to issue a sovereign green bond. In recognition of this, the World Bank will soon be publishing a ‘Guide to Sovereign Green Bond Issuance – Lessons from Fiji’.

Economically, the issuance of Fijian Green Bonds is seen to be a positive development for the domestic capital markets as it expands the number of climate financing instruments available, and stimulates private sector investment that promotes sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

We are proud to be issuers of this green bond and to send the message to the world that small countries with emerging economies can also create innovative climate financing tools geared towards strengthening the resilience of our people.

Our Prime Minister and COP23 President, Honourable Frank Bainimarama, is expected to announce the listing of the Fiji Green Bonds on the London Stock Exchange during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London next month.

The second instrument is the Environmental and Climate Adaptation Levy that was put in place last year. Tourism is a significant contributor to our island economy and the industry is growing. Even after Category 5 Cyclone Winston ravaged the country in 2016, visitor arrivals to our shores continued to increase in 2017

This booming sector provides a feasible environment for the establishment of a green and climate financing tool. Feasible in the sense that healthy gains can be achieved and also in terms of ethical responsibility being developed within the sector where visitors and service users give back for a worthy cause.

The Environment and Climate Adaptation Levy is levied at the rate of 10% on prescribed services and mainly on businesses with high turnovers. The funds will be used to support local climate adaptation and resilience projects and for the protection and enhancement of our natural resources.

Whilst I am relaying to you these developments from Fiji, I am also acutely aware of the many good work carried out in your countries, your regions, your organisations and your communities.

I would like to urge you to also share your stories and experiences. And this brings me to an important process currently underway – the Talanoa Dialogue, formerly called the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue.

Firstly, I would like to commend the organisers of the Forum for framing the approach of the sessions around the Talanoa Dialogue.

The main intention of the dialogue is to identify solutions, innovations, approaches and implementation strategies that will inspire, provoke, and drive countries to maximise their ambitions for pre-2030 action. This dialogue needs to be conducted in an open, transparent, inclusive, participatory, respectful and constructive manner.

These are the essence of talanoa, where an environment of empathy and trust is created and relationships are forged.

We should now be all aware that current NDC commitments fall way short of meeting the goal to keep global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius.

So it will be important that the next round of NDCs takes us as close as possible to bridging the current emissions gap with a focus on the more ambitious 1.5 degree Celsius target.

So what does this mean for advancing our work in adaptation and resilience?

Whilst we call for accelerated mitigation actions, we should also ensure that wherever possible adaptation co-benefits are realised from these actions. As technologies for cleaner energy advance, let us at the same time ensure these technologies will have multiple and far-reaching benefits, extending beyond just one sector.

For instance technologies supporting the nexus between clean energy and agriculture and food security and water and forests and fisheries need to be promoted and strengthened.

This calls for closer collaboration and partnerships with those working in the mitigation sectors. Only by doing so can we build true resilience.

So to all adaptation experts in the room, I encourage you to connect with our partners in the mitigation sector to work on joint solutions and create synergies to ensure a more resilient society.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of the Global Adaption Network, and the co-organisers of this Forum – the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Zayed University.

I also acknowledge with gratitude the Japanese Ministry of Environment for providing the needed financial support.

And a very special thank you to the UN Climate Resilience Initiative for your continuing efforts in bringing attention to the important topic of resilience at the international stage.

I wish you all very productive and enjoyable talanoa discussions.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.