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PLENARY SESSION OF THE THIRD WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (RIO+20) - PM BAINIMARAMA
STATEMENT OF THE PRIME MINISTER,
COMMODORE VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, AT THE PLENARY SESSION OF THE THIRD WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (RIO+20)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
- Wed. 20 JUNE 2012
Your Excellency Madam President and Chair of the World Summit;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Thank you for the warm hospitality extended to the Fijian delegation upon our arrival in Rio. I am pleased for the opportunity to address you at this, the Third World Summit on Sustainable Development.
It has now been 20 years since Fiji attended the World Summit on Environment and Development here in Rio. It was at that meeting where an understanding for the special cases of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was developed by the international community. This understanding resulted in the creation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of SIDS in 1994.
Twenty years on, I can today reaffirm that for Fiji and its people, the unique considerations applicable to SIDS still hold firm in our continued efforts to achieve sustainable development. Recent global developments, such as the financial, fuel, and food crises have served to underscore this reality, particularly as we move forward together in facing the adverse impacts of climate change, climate variability, and rising sea levels. Our vulnerabilities have increased, whilst our capacity to cope has not.
As a small island nation, Fiji continues to face significant and mounting challenges, amongst other things, safe energy supplies; biodiversity; and disasters related to climate change.
As we address these significant and mounting challenges, we do so with the understanding that many of our island neighbours share these same issues. It is in this context that I now turn to the term “Pacific Way”, which points to the holistic way Pacific island nations collaborate to achieve common goals. For Pacific islanders, the “Pacific Way” invokes dialogue and collaboration in sharing our island heritage, independence, and right to self-governance, as we strive to establish effective communications; strengthen social networks; and promote environmentally friendly, sustainable economic development.
The “Pacific Way” concept points Fiji and its island neighbours toward the path that will lead to the “Future We Want” – if I may refer to the proposed title of the outcome document from Rio+20. If re-invigorated today, it is my belief that the concept behind this term will help the Pacific islands region further develop and strengthen its ability to work together toward its sustainable development goals.
Fiji and the region, however, it still looks towards the leadership and guidance of the world’s most advanced nations in addressing matters of environmental and economic development and security.
More frequent and more powerful cyclones touch our shores every year, resulting in flooding that destroys homes, crops, and spreads disease. These disasters have severe implications for our natural resources, economy, and primary industries. In the face of these challenges, Fiji is taking a stand, in combating climate change with concurrent sustainable economic development.
We also have established mechanisms that contribute to addressing issues identified by regional policies. Fiji has been asked to share its expertise in managing ozone depleting substances with other Pacific island nations, as my Government is focused on developing realistic and effective climate change policies that make sense in our own, unique context.
These efforts have even garnered the support of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), with Fiji also being among the first nations to sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Madam President, given Fiji’s leadership position on climate change in the Pacific Island region, my Government has established a comprehensive climate change policy.
The mission of Fiji’s policy is to promote the integration of climate change issues into our national planning, budgeting and implementation; to guide commercial sectors to develop appropriate climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies; to maximize access to, and secure globally available financing for climate change adaptation efforts. Also, to increase Fiji’s capacity to cope with the impacts of climate change; and to provide sound scientific information for the implementation of effective awareness and education initiatives.
As this very conference is taking place, Fiji continues to lead the regional effort on climate change. In early February of this year, officials from the environmental, agricultural, and forestry sectors of Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu met in our capital of Suva to set directions and identify outputs for the Pacific-German Regional Program on Adaptation to Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region. As a result, a new, four-year project focused on practical, long-term adaptation strategies in land management, agriculture and forestry is to be implemented in the three nations.
Some say it will be at least 50 years before any reductions begin to reverse the predicted consequences of climate change and rising sea levels around the world. However, constructive summits at which each nation’s unique barriers and challenges are discussed, are bound to develop fruitful debate and practical solutions.
We in Fiji are happy to note that SIDS remains a key reflection in the Rio +20 outcomes document. As such, I’ve also noted the proposal for a Third International Meeting on SIDS in 2014. As we continue in partnership within the Pacific region in climate change initiatives through dedicated time, human resources, and capital, Fiji offers host the Third International Meeting on SIDS and continue the dialogue.