COP27: Engagement key for Pacific at UNFCC COP negotiations: Nawadra

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Positions taken by countries at COP27 are not always going to be the same but engagement is key to ensuring negotiations can even take place.

The Pacific’s foremost environmental advocate, Sefanaia Nawadra said countries come to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change with different interests.

“Sometimes we have got to see the middle. These things are never as obvious as they seem. We’re a family and families don’t necessarily agree all the time,” DG Nawadra said.

“What we need to do is try and understand each other and eventually, we will come to some position that we’re all comfortable with. And that’s how we’ve approached our relationship with Australia before this, and in this case with New Zealand.”

Nawadra, the Director General of the South Pacific’s Regional Environment Programme made the comment at the daily Pacific Media COP27 Briefing, organized by the Pacific Island’s Forum Secretariat.

The Director General was speaking in response to questions on whether or not the New Zealand government was serious about supporting a financing facility on Loss and Damages.

Although it had announced a $20million startup contribution to an initiative to be agreed to at COP27, the NZ government had indicated it was not in a rush to have one established at the Sharm-El-Sheik event.

COP27, plugged the implementation and finance COP aims to produce a L&D finance facility that Pacific Island countries could easily access.

Ambassador Satendra Prasad, Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and head of its delegation at COP27 echoed the sentiments.

“The Fijian Prime Minister was, I think the first to welcome New Zealand’s contribution. I have certainly said here as representative of Fiji, that Fiji has welcomed New Zealand’s contribution and Fiji also has welcomed the signalling that New Zealand has provided for loss and damage,” Ambassador Prasad said.

He explained that Fiji viewed New Zealand as a partner and part of the Pacific family adding Aotearoa had a “deep and firsthand experience and understanding of what loss and damage means in the Pacific.”

“I think that (funding) has really helped at a crucial time to elevate the loss and damage negotiation. Thanks the government of New Zealand for giving us such a powerful injection, both through the substantive contribution, but as well as substantial injection in the diplomacy that was needed at a time when we’re still pushing loss and damages over the line, there’s no question about that.”

The Fijian diplomat said it was now up member states to agree on the structure of a L&D finance facility and added that it would also dictate how fast such a facility would be up and running.

Adding Fiji was frustrated with the pace and the lack of ambition Ambassador Prasad said he was hopeful the COP process would get eventually get to the finish line. He did highlight the important of what he described as “negotiations happening behind the negotiations of negotiations” alluding to the value of bilateral meetings between countries.

Dr Nawadra said engagement over climate commitments was long term adding the Pacific was also cautious.

“New Zealand’s position of showing caution, actually is the same as ours. We also need to ensure that whatever mechanism is put in place needs to be one that is not like the GCF, which doesn’t serve us at the moment because of the access issues that are related to it.”

DG Nawadra and Ambassador Prasad were guests on Day 7 of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s Pacific COP27 Daily Media Briefing. The daily initiative acts as a virtual newsroom for Pacific journalists to reach participants of the COP27 currently taking place in Egypt.

Lice Movono is a Pacific Affairs journalist based in Suva, Fiji reporting for Australian and New Zealand media.

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