Pacific Forum Statement on Climate Change at PFD Plenary

Delivered on behalf of the Pacific Forum  by
His Excellency Mr Ludwig Scotty, MP
President of the Republic of Nauru

I would like to start with a few points that have recently been made very strongly at the international level on the issue of Climate Change.

UN SG Ban Ki-moon recently suggested that “Climate change, and how we address it, will define us, our era and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations”. This is particularly relevant for the Small Island States of the Pacific.
• The 4th Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that it is unequivocal that global warming is an existing and worsening threat.
• Therefore business as usual is not an option for any of us.
• The time for action is now, we simply can’t economically, environmentally or socially afford to wait until it is too late,
• Action on climate change represents one of “the great moral imperatives of our era”. Not all regions are affected equally by climate change and the impacts it brings. Wealthy and highly industrialized nations which are mainly responsible for current global warming possess the know-how and resources to adapt while the most severe consequences are felt in poorer and more vulnerable countries.

Climate Change is a daunting and overwhelming threat to the economic, environmental and social well being of island communities, also threatening the very existence of some of our low lying atoll countries.

We, the Pacific island peoples, have consistently over the years been expressing our concerns over the threats posed by climate change and have called for increased adaptation and mitigation efforts, including global reductions to greenhouse gas emissions. This year again with urgency; the Forum Leaders have reiterated our deep concern over the growing threat this poses to Forum Island Countries.

Instead of describing the disastrous consequences of climate change on Forum Island Countries, which I have no doubt you are all too familiar with, I would like to highlight the progress and steps the region is making in its efforts to tackle climate change. It is critical that we have your support and that of the international community in ensuring that together we effectively address the threats posed by climate change.

In 2005 Forum Leaders endorsed the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change (PIFACC) as an effective regional platform for deepening and broadening regional cooperation on addressing climate change. Under the stewardship of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) we are currently in the process of translating the Framework into an Action Plan, as well as re-invigorating the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable to guide its implementation and address gaps. In addition, the region has endorsed other regional frameworks, such as the Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Framework for Action, which also deals with some of the most crippling impacts of climate change for Pacific Island States.

Integral to this work, there are a number of major initiatives being undertaken by the region in partnership with international partners including the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Some of these major initiatives have been alluded to in the Question and Answer briefs you have been given on Climate Change initiatives in the region. These cover Greenhouse Gas Abatement, renewable energy, adaptation projects, and conserving the use of existing critical resources such as water, foods and our cultures. We invite you to engage on these platforms and assist the region in its efforts to contribute to mitigation and more urgently to adapt to the impacts of Climate Change.

However, existing adaptation efforts will not be sufficient to cope with increasing vulnerability to future climate change challenges. Forum Island Countries as a region will need to build on existing and past efforts and take strategic and innovative national action to identify and implement effective measures to address vulnerability and improve resilience to these challenges.

In this regard, Forum Leaders have highlighted a number of priorities which include; the need to improve information assessing local and national vulnerability to climate change; including socio-economic vulnerability and traditional knowledge; to help better design and implement country specific adaptation strategies and to build resilience; as well as to mainstream climate change into national development planning and budgetary processes. Given the limited national financial and technical capacity, we would welcome our partners’ assistance with the necessary resources and technical expertise to enable FICs to accomplish these important initiatives.

Financing national efforts is always a major constraint, we ask for your assistance as well as that of the international community, in supporting the establishment of sustainable financing options suitable at national, sub-regional and/or regional levels to support climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

One such major global fund established to support national adaptation efforts is the Adaptation Fund set up under the Kyoto Protocol. The World Bank has estimated that between US$10-40 billion will be required by developing countries for adaptation. It is clear that the Adaptation Fund alone will not be able to supply the resources required for adaptation in all regions. There are also a few other important issues that remain to be resolved quickly before the Fund becomes operational. One of these is the proposal for special consideration for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) under the Adaptation Fund. We would like to seek your support for this in the relevant meetings of the Conference of the Parties. In addition, we call upon your support for the replenishment of the Special Climate Change Fund under GEF.

As you are most likely aware, the GEF is developing a new regional programmatic approach to assisting the region in its efforts towards sustainable development and environmental protection. This is called the GEF Pacific Alliance for Sustainability and proposes to allocate approximately US$100 million over 4 years for the region, and will include a focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation. While we welcome such an initiative, we are also mindful of the stringent conditions associated with GEF funding, including co-financing requirements for any GEF-funded program for which our partners are critical. We seek your respective GEF Council representatives’ support for this significant programme when it is tabled for approval at the GEF Council in April 2008 and would highly appreciate your engagement in the development of the programme over the next few months.

Finally, as noted in the latest IPCC report, there is an urgent need for agreement on an effective global response to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the adverse impacts of climate change more generally.

In this regard, we applaud the landmark decisions reached at the recent G8 Summit held in Germany in June 2007 in which the most powerful governments of the world accepted responsibility to act on emission reductions and eventual cuts, and called for closure by 2009 on a global agreement, under the UNFCCC, to ensure that there is no gap between future approaches to climate change and the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.

At the High-Level Event on Climate Change convened by the United Nations Secretary-General last month in New York ahead of the sixty-second UN General Assembly, world leaders again reiterated their commitment to negotiating a bold new agreement to tackle climate change on all fronts, including adaptation, mitigation, clean technologies and resource mobilization.

I would like however to conclude by quoting the remarks delivered at that UN High-Level Event by the President of Indonesia, which is hosting the upcoming UNFCCC Conference of the Parties meeting in Bali in December. “A global strategy would not work if it did not include pro-poor, pro-development measures. The spirit of partnership must guide the negotiation process.”

Thank you.