Opening Remarks by Acting Secretary General, Dr. Filimon Manoni
Public Lecture by Honourable Simon Kofe on ” Preparing today to secure the future against climate change impacts”
22nd April 2022
Honourable Simon Kofe, Minister for Justice, Communications and Foreign Affairs
for the Government of Tuvalu,
Heads of Missions and Excellencies,
Heads of Regional and International Organisations,
Distinguished guests joining us here at the Forum Secretariat and those connecting
Ladies and gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka, Talofa and welcome to this very important and exciting public lecture.
On behalf of Secretary General Henry Puna, who is unable to be here today, allow meto welcome to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Honourable Simon Kofe. Thank you very for availing your time and agreeing to hold this Public Lecture focused on a very important issue that is at the heart of our struggles as Pacific island Nations., but more importantly, on innovative ideas on how we prepare today to secure our future. We look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Ladies and Gentlemen, “Preparing today to secure the future against climate change impacts” is the theme for today’s lecture and this rings loud and true for our Blue Pacific. The urgency of the climate crisis cannot wait another day. We should prepare today to ensure we can secure a prosperous, resilient and environmentally sustainable future for our Blue Pacific. If we do this, we can also say we have secured the future for the rest of the world.
Just last week the world converged on one of our Blue Continent countries, Palau, to discuss our Oceans with the theme of “Our Ocean, Our People, Our prosperity”. The Ocean is significant for our Blue Pacific, it is significant for our communities, our livelihoods and our Pacific way of life. And now, more than ever, it is significant as a climate regulator and carbon sink.
It’s ironic that while our Ocean holds these life giving properties and its significance to our way of life, our low lying Atoll Nations like Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and many more are under threat from rising seas, from the waves of climate change generated miles away from our shores by the big polluting nations. The science has been telling us this for years, yet our collective human response so far has failed to stop this ongoing threat.
Our Pacific leaders have stated and reaffirmed many times that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the Pacific people. This therefore calls for innovative ideas and solutions to secure our Blue Pacific for our future generations.
Last year the Forum Secretariat, with the support of the One CROP plus team, initiated and piloted the Political Climate Champions initiative in the lead up to COP26. Our voice were amplified loud and clear at the COP26 negotiations in Glasgow. While COP26 did not deliver on all our demands,, significant progress was made in advancing our calls for more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the completion of the Paris rulebook, securing an annual dialogue on the Ocean-Climate nexus, and the establishment of the Glasgow Dialogue on funding arrangements for Loss and Damage. But dialogues need to be translated into concrete actions now.
While global platforms like COP offer opportunities for bringing our concerns to the world, the world is so interconnected now that our own efforts, if leveraged correctly, can make far greater international impact. Of course, when I say this, there is no better example than the image of Honourable Minister Simon Kofe standing knee deep in the sea delivering a message to the world during COP26 on the impacts climate change is having on his country and indeed the Pacific. This image spoke more than a thousand words. As a modern metric for measuring the impact and reach of the message, we are now counting the number of “hits” on social media platforms in the millions. This very example has also resulted in the Honourable Minister being
nominated for a Noble Peace Prize.
In our own region, other Member countries and partners are taking various actions to be innovative. For example, Fiji successfully launched their Green Bonds a few years back and it is now ready to launch their Blue Bonds that will help finance its Blue economy focus. Niue recently declared over 40% of its EEZ as a marine protected area. At the regional level, Secretary General Puna recently signed a new MOU with FIFA, the international football governing body, to collaborate on climate change; leveraging off the power and influence of soccer and the celebrity profile of international players to promote sports diplomacy for urgent climate action. We hope this platform will contribute to elevating our climate advocacy to the non-converts and major emitters around the world.
In a couple of weeks, the Forum Secretariat and partners under the Pacific Resilience Partnership (PRP), will be hosting a symposium on Disaster Risk Financing that will aim to get our countries better prepared for disaster risks.
Later this year, we are also planning to convene a global pledging event for the Pacific Resilience Facility – an innovative and forward-looking small grants facility seeking to provide sustainable financing to build resilience in vulnerable communities in the Pacific.
And when our Forum Leaders meet in Fiji later this year, they will consider the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, to ensure we collectively steer and achieve a resilient, prosperous and secure future for all Pacific people.
With these examples from a regional perspective, let me underscore that we must never give up the search for better, more innovative and future looking solutions to the threat of climate change. We know there is no planet B for us all. We only have this One Blue Pacific and the One Blue Planet we all share and call home. If we fail to plan for a better tomorrow; we have failed our moral duty to safeguard a resilient future for our children and future generations. The time to act is now.
At this juncture, it gives me great pleasure in introducing this afternoon’s Chief guest who will deliver this public lecture entitled, “Preparing today to secure the future against
Honourable Kofe is a lawyer by profession, and before embarking on his political career, he was the Legal Advisor for the Tuvalu Fisheries Department. He then went on to become the youngest ever Tuvaluan to hold the position of Chief Magistrate.
His rise in the political world is remarkable in that he was also the youngest ever elected MP to represent his island constituency of Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu.
He is a Cabinet Minister in the Government of Tuvalu holding the portfolios of Justice, Communications and Foreign Affairs.
More recently he has also come to enjoy international attention and accolade with his creative idea of delivering a statement for COP26 while standing knee deep in rising seas around his home island, as alluded to before.
His continuing advocacy and innovative ideas on addressing climate change impacts has culminated in him being nominated for the Noble Peace prize. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, colleagues and friends, the Honourable Simon Kofe.