REMARKS: SG Puna opens OPOC COP27 Climate-Oceans Nexus event

COP27 Side Event: Keeping the Ocean-Climate-Biodiversity Nexus Momentum alive–Sharing the SIDS’ Perspectives
Thursday 10 November from 8:00am – 9:00am
Welcome Remarks by Mr. Henry Puna
Secretary General – Pacific Islands Forum

❖ The Hon Prime Minister of Cook Islands and Incoming Forum Chair, Mark Brown

❖ The US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, Senator John Kerry

❖ UN Secretary General’s Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Peter Thomson

❖ Senior Representatives of the UAE COP28 Presidency

❖ Dr. Kilaparti Ramakrishna of the Woods Hole Institute

❖ Excellencies, Senior Officials, Ladies and Gentlemen,

• I bid you warm Pacific greetings at this early morning Oceans Breakfast Event, and I’m delighted many of you are able to join us here today, despite your busy schedules this week.

• As a partner of this first ever Ocean Pavilion, we are pleased to host you in this space this morning.

• I would like to acknowledge my distinguished fellow panelists, who have joined us.

• Firstly, US Special Envoy on Climate Change, Senator John Kerry, thank you very much for your presence here with us. I know you have a busy schedule here, and the time you have taken to join us reaffirms for me the United States commitment, not only to climate change, not only to oceans, but also to us in the Pacific. So in that regard, I thank you sincerely for your time.

• May I also recognise the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Peter Thomson. Ambassador, you’ve not only advocated admirably on oceans issues, but you’ve represented our region and our people well on the global stage. It is good to see you here today.

• At the same time, I recognise our moderator Ms Cristelle Pratt from the OACPS; as well as HE. Majid Al Suwaidi representing the COP28 Presidency, United Arab Emirates.

• To all our panel, I once again thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you this morning.

* Excellencies we are gathered here today to discuss issues about the future off humanity, and the future of our planet. That is what is at stake here at COP 27.

• This morning I want to highlight two pieces of the puzzle: climate change and oceans.

• These are issues that must be addressed holistically, and they are issues that we must address collectively. Climate change and the ocean are transboundary and planetary in nature. They must therefore be treated as one.

• But the ocean does not have to be regarded as a “victim”. It can in fact be the “hero”.

• Excellencies, the ocean offers hope and indeed potential in this climate crisis.

• As we speak, the ocean is in many ways “playing its part” to absorb the effects of climate change – by acting as a carbon sink, and by providing precious ecosystem services that offset the harm, caused by anthropogenic global warming…..

• But we need a healthy ocean, for this to continue.

• And that is why oceans finance is critical. Not only because it helps preserve and protect our ocean; but because it helps to minimise climate change.

• Excellencies, I have directed my team at the Forum Secretariat to commence work on a valuation of our Pacific Ocean – so that we can fully appreciate the value of our ocean resources, ecology, ecosystems, biodiversity and cultural values.

• I will now add the value that it holds in terms of absorbing climate change impacts to the mix – and with that, I am certain that we will find that we in the Pacific, with our immense ocean, are much more valuable than perhaps the world gives us credit for.

• Excellencies, it is precisely this latent and potential value that the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent is based on. It is all about protecting and preserving our “ocean continent”, because it is central to our survival, our security, our prosperity….indeed our identity. And we know we need to work together to protect it.

• Excellencies, to close, I am pleased to see the first ever ocean pavilion here at COP27, and I would strongly urge that we continue to have a voice for the ocean in future Conferences.

• To the incoming President of the Conference, United Arab Emirates, let me humbly request that you consider how we might add oceans to the agenda of the Conference, when we convene next year for COP28.

• And finally, allow me to follow in the footsteps of our Pacific Leaders, whose voices in Sharm El Sheik this week have rung loud and clear. My call is this: We need to continue to protect the ocean, so it can protect us and our one planet Earth. There is no other way forward.

• I thank you–ENDS