Fiji Will Bring Number of Pressing Issues Facing Vulnerable Nations to Forefront at COP23

Prime Minister and incoming COP23 President Frank Bainimarama’s remarks at the Climate Minister’s Meeting in Montreal, Canada on 15 September.

Bula vinaka and a very good evening to you all.

We gather in Montreal just days before Climate Week in New York and less than eight weeks before COP itself in Bonn.

And we do so newly reminded of our obligation to move the climate action agenda forward by the terrible suffering we have witnessed  in the Caribbean and southern United States,

Friends, we have no time to waste. And I appeal to you all to use your authority – individually and as governments – to put this at the very top of the global political agenda. And to ensure that COP23 is the success it must be for the sake of all 7.5 billion citizens of Planet Earth.

As you know, the presidency’s formal obligation is to advance the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement – the Implementation Guidelines – and to design the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue to foster more ambitious climate action.

But beyond that, there are a number of other pressing issues facing climate vulnerable nations – including my own – that I feel bound to bring to the forefront during Fiji’s presidency.

It is now an absolute imperative for the whole world to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above that of the industrial age. What is currently the more ambitious target of the Paris Agreement must become the absolute benchmark. And it must be achieved as quickly as possible.

We must also find the collective will and the means to adapt to the extreme weather events, rising sea levels and changes to agriculture associated with climate change.

I believe there is now a general recognition of the need to build the resilience of vulnerable nations, provide them with better access to alternative energy sources, and affordable insurance to enable them to recover more speedily from climate related events.

As President, I will therefore be calling on the community of nations to work together in a spirit of friendship and cooperation to help meet the climate adaptation challenges of vulnerable nations, including in some cases, the threat to their very existence.

It is an issue of fairness, natural justice and collective responsibility that the whole world must confront. And we have the architecture to do so in the Paris Agreement. We need to act now to bring Paris to life in real terms on the ground. I am asking people of goodwill everywhere to join our Grand Coalition of governments at every level, civil society and the private sector and act in concert before it is too late.

Friends, I am convinced that a holistic approach of limiting the global temperature to 1.5 degrees – coupled with building resilience for the vulnerable – is the only way to meet this challenge.

We have the evidence upon which to act, and the agreed mileposts from the Paris Agreement to guide our journey.  We now need to act with even greater urgency to design the rules of the road for an accelerated transition to a Planet that can continue to sustain us — one that allows us to prosper and flourish to our greatest potential. And we will all be judged – each and every one of us – by the path we chose when we had power in our hands.

I appeal to you all to support this agenda.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.