Joint PIF/UN Release: Pacific Leaders at UNGA77 meet with UN SG Guterres

UNGA77, UNHQ, New York 23 September 2022-– Pacific Leaders met with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on 23 September 2022 on the margins of the high-level week of the seventy-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss pressing issues for the Blue Pacific and the international community.

Opening the meeting, the Prime Minister of Fiji and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Hon. Josaia V. Bainimarama recalled the 51st Forum meeting, held in July 2022 under the theme, “Reflection, Renewal, Celebration”. He underscored Pacific leaders’ pledge to intensify action on critical issues facing the region, including gender equality, climate change, ocean protection, nuclear issues, technology, and connectivity under the auspices of the Forum Leaders’ new 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna emphasised that the 2050 Strategy was the region’s long-term blueprint to drive the region’s political, development and security future. He called on international partners to recognise and support the collective strength of the Blue Pacific and to align regional and international cooperation to the 2050 Strategy.

On climate change, Forum Leaders discussed the need for COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh to deliver urgent action, with the Pacific facing a climate emergency. They called on world leaders, especially from countries that are the large greenhouse gas emitters, to urgently commit to net zero emissions by 2050, submit enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions, deliver the $100 billion climate finance goal before COP27, ensure that developed countries deliver on their commitment to double adaptation finance by 2025 from 2019 levels and, beyond, allocate 50 per cent of all new climate finance to adaptation. They also insisted on the necessity to take concrete action on loss and damage. Forum Leaders also outlined Vanuatu’s PIF-endorsed call to the UN General Assembly for a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory opinion on the obligations of states under international law to protect the rights of present and future generations against the adverse impacts of climate change.

Forum Leaders reflected on 2022 as the “Year for the Ocean” and progress made, highlighting the “Our Ocean” conference in Palau and the United Nations Oceans Conference in Lisbon. Leaders urged the international community to finalise intergovernmental negotiations to adopt a legally binding instrument to conserve and sustainably use Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ instrument), and to take the decisions needed for a successful COP-15 on Biodiversity. They also discussed the landmark PIF Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-related Sea-level Rise and called on other states and regions to support the Declaration. Leaders expressed concern over nuclear legacy issues in the Blue Pacific and on Japan’s plans to discharge over a million tons of Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water into the Pacific Ocean.

On global economic challenges, Forum Leaders highlighted the unprecedented scale of economic scarring from COVID-19, recurrent climate impacts, and the global cost of living crisis resulting from the dramatic rise in food and energy prices and the growing financial constraints for developing countries. They stressed the urgent need to explore innovative and collective recovery efforts including to accelerate the transition to universal access to renewable energy. This includes addressing indebtedness, flexible development financing models, strengthening public financial management systems, assistance to SMEs freight costs and capitalisation of the Pacific Resilience Facility.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres praised Pacific leadership for advocating urgent and enhanced global action to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis and protect the oceans. He supported their call for COP27 and COP 15 to be moments of decisive action on the climate and biodiversity crises and urged international solidarity with vulnerable countries like the Pacific Small Island Developing States, which are facing hardships from global economic shocks.

He commended the cooperation between the Pacific Islands Forum and the United Nations, including on the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and committed to full UN coordination and support on the ground to deliver on the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. The Secretary-General called on the region to strengthen inclusive policies, bolster gender equality and deliver on universal human rights as it seeks to accelerate and realize the Sustainable Development Goals. —ENDS