24/09/19

“We all know that a healthy and functioning ocean is the single most important factor influencing climate.” – PM Frank Bainimararma’s Remarks at the High Level Panel on a Sustainable Ocean Economy

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all,

We all know that a healthy and functioning ocean is the single most important factor influencing climate. And Fiji is honoured to have been given the task of leading the global ocean campaign, first as co-chair with our Swedish friends of the World Ocean Conference two years ago and at a high level ever since.

At the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu last month, Fiji and the other Pacific nations welcomed the emphasis that Chile intends to place on oceans at the upcoming “Blue COP” – COP25 in December. In the Kainaki II Declaration, we call on all parties – and we have been joined by Indonesia on this – to consider a work program on oceans within the UNFCCC process.

Excellencies, sustainable oceans are one of Fiji’s top priorities. And with the dire warnings we expect this week from the Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere, we look forward to supporting Chile to achieve this outcome.

Delegates will also be aware that 42 per cent of the world’s ocean is under national jurisdiction of our Exclusive Economic Zones. We ask the world to follow Fiji’s lead in committing ourselves to 100 per cent sustainable management of our EEZ by 2030, with at least 30 per cent to be declared protected areas.

Fiji is also calling for a ten-year moratorium on deep sea mining in the Pacific from 2020 to 2030 while the potential environment hazards and benefits are fully assessed. In addition, Fiji and the Marshall Islands are leading the Pacific Island Blue Shipping Partnership, a coalition of seven Pacific island countries committed to reducing fossil fuel use by our domestic and regional shipping by 40 per cent by 2030 and achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The partnership aims to dramatically upgrade our domestic and regional shipping fleets, our ports and fisheries facilities. This will only be possible with bilateral and multilateral partnerships and we seek global support for this initiative.

During Fiji’s COP23 Presidency, we launched the Ocean Pathway to establish a proper role for the Ocean in the UNFCCC process.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, you don’t need to be a maritime nation, or even have a coastline, to understand that the health of oceans and climate change are indivisible. Addressing oceans challenges requires that all UN bodies, and all of our partners in the private sector and civil society, remain committed to an integrated, collaborative global effort.

Thank you