Pacific Climate Security Dialogue in partnership with Fiji Permanent Representative as Pacific Islands Forum Chair (PIFS)
8.00am Thursday 13 October (Fiji Time)
4.00pm Wednesday 12 October (New York Time)
Opening Remarks by Mr. Henry Puna
Secretary General – Pacific Islands Forum
The Hon. Simon Kofe, Minister for Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs, Tuvalu;
His Excellency Dr. Satyendra Prasad, Permanent Representative to the United Nations from Fiji and fellow Permanent Representatives to the UN from Forum Member Countries;
Senior UN Officials based in New York and the Pacific;
Distinguished representatives from our Pacific Youth;
Ladies and Gentlemen –
• Good morning to you all from the Pacific, and a very warm welcome to this Pacific Climate Security Dialogue.
• Firstly, to our colleagues from the UN, and to Permanent Representative Prasad, I want to thank you for your efforts to bring us all together today for this valuable Dialogue.
• I am excited to be here to have these conversations and to share our experiences.
• In 2018, Pacific Island Forum Leaders met in Nauru, in the midst of an increasingly complex regional security environment driven by multifaceted security challenges.
• Yet in the face of this complexity, one thing was, and still is, very clear: Climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific.
• In adopting the Boe Declaration on Regional Security, Leaders asked that we unify our efforts behind one priority cause: securing our sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of the impacts of climate change.
• That was the position of Leaders in 2018, and it remains the position of Leaders today.
• Through their recent endorsement of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, our Leaders reiterated the region’s expanded concept of security, highlighting the many impacts of climate change and disasters and their threats to the future of the region’s people and the statehood of many Pacific nations.
• In the 2050 Strategy, our Leaders highlight that we aspire for all Pacific peoples to remain resilient to the impacts of climate change and disasters and are able to lead safe, secure and prosperous lives.
• In this vein, I am pleased that the Pacific Islands Forum has been able to work closely with the United Nations to develop the Pacific Climate Security Project. The fact that the UN Secretary General allowed us to use his Peacebuilding Fund to look at the security implications of climate change says two things to me: That the UN has listened to our calls; and that you are indeed willing and able to help us.
• I want to personally thank those of you that have been involved in bringing the Pacific Climate Security Project to fruition.
• To achieve our Leader’s ambition to securing our sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of the impacts of climate change, we need to first understand the impacts that climate change will have on the regional security landscape.
• Research and evidence-based knowledge products such as the regional Climate Security Assessment Framework that is being developed with assistance of the Pacific Climate Security Project, are an important step in helping us to do just that.
• That Climate Security Assessment Framework should help to provide our members with guidance on ways to identify, and mitigate, the single greatest threat to the security and wellbeing of Pacific Peoples. In doing so, we aim to make Pacific peoples’ lives safer, more secure, and more fulfilling.
• And to this end, I am pleased that you are all here today, in-person and online, to further shine a spotlight on climate change as a security issue.
• I encourage you to share your knowledge so that we can all benefit. We welcome the opportunity to hear global perspectives and experiences, but we are also pleased that you, our global friends and partners, have taken the time to come today to listen to us and to hear about our own experiences.
• At the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, our key focus is delivering the Leaders’ vision of a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity.
• In the 2050 Strategy, our Leaders have reiterated the importance of implementing agreed measures that proactively, collectively, and in a culturally appropriate manner, address climate change and current and future disaster impacts including extreme weather events, cyclones, drought, flooding and sea level rise and ocean acidification.
• Let me close by saying that your work, now and into the future, is critical, to helping us to achieve that vision.
• And because of this, I want to reiterate my sincere thanks to you all, for being here to assist with this important work.
• I wish you all the best for your discussions.
• Vinaka vakalevu
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