Just Transition to a Fossil Free Pacific
2nd Pacific Ministerial Dialogue
Port Vila – 17th March, 2023
• The Honourable Minister Ralph Regevanu and Honourable Minister Seve Paeniu,
• Distinguished Ministers and Foreign Dignitaries,
• Senior Officials,
• Heads and Representatives of the CROP Agencies and Non-Government Organisations,
• Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Since this is my first opportunity to provide formal remarks, I want to offer my sincerest appreciation to our co-hosts, the Government of Vanuatu and the Government of Tuvalu, for convening this very important dialogue and for the invitation to be present here.
2. At the outset, I want to recognise and acknowledge the resilience of the Vanuatu people, that despite the devastating impacts of cyclone Judy and cyclone Kevin, all in the space of a few days, you decided to forge ahead with this meeting and with the rebuilding efforts. I commend you and your people.
3. It is unfortunate that we, in the Pacific, having the smallest footprint on global emissions, yet are at the forefront of frequent natural disasters and the exacerbated effects of climate change. We must continue to call for more urgent climate action especially here at this Ministerial Dialogue in relation to just transition and non-proliferation.
4. In that regard, let me also thank the various technical agencies and experts that presented throughout the course of the dialogue for driving ambitious action, including reliance on science and technology to come up with innovative solutions and ideas to help guide our deliberations.
5. Over the course of the last two days, I have sat here and listened to the discussions, and despite the enormous fight we have ahead of us, I am encouraged and proud to see that the Pacific continues to lead the way in the push to keep temperature increases below 1.5 degrees and a net-zero emissions future; standing on our moral authority, to guarantee a future for our people, their children, their pristine islands, and a future for humanity.
6. Excellencies, I know that navigating a Just Transition and getting a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty through the global mechanisms will not be without its detractors and opposition, but we have seen that if we stay the course, these can be achieved as demonstrated by several examples borne out of our Pacific shores, including:
a. Vanuatu and the 116 States that have agreed to co-sponsor the UNGA Resolution for an Advisory Opinion from the ICJ;
b. Tuvalu and Antigua and Barbuda’s co-sponsorship of the Commission on Small Islands (COSIS) initiative; and
c. The Pacific Islands Forum declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of climate change related sea level rise.
7. These examples signal to the world to stop looking at us as just Small Island States, but as giants in the fight against Climate Change. We must use all of the available regional and international mechanisms at our disposal.
8. I also note several opportunities coming up where we can further strengthen the momentum of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, starting with the Energy Ministers meeting, several other regional ministers meetings including the FEMM and the Forum Officials discussions in Nadi later this month on the complex issues on rights and entitlements related to the impacts of sea level rise and ultimately the Leaders meeting in Rarotonga later this year.
9. Let me emphasise that while progressing down the path of Fossil Fuels elimination, we must do so with integrity and with a lense of equity, fairness, consideration of basic human rights including those of women, girls and of the most vulnerable in our communities. It will require whole of systems transformational changes, but we must bring the people along with us, after all this is why wea rea doing this.
10. Let us also be reminded of our Leaders’ vision, enshrined in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, for a resilient Pacific Region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity, that ensures all Pacific peoples can lead free, healthy and productive lives.
11. Excellencies, in closing, let me assure you that the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and other CROP Agencies will provide whatever support is necessary to drive this ambition forward and ultimately live in a Fossil Free Pacific. Securing the future of the Pacific cannot be left to chance.
I thank you
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