Pacific High-Level Climate Change Dialogue
Opening Remarks – by Secretary General Henry Puna
Grand Pacific Hotel – Suva
21 August 2023
• The Prime Minister of Fiji, Honourable Sitiveni Rabuka
• The Prime Minister of Tonga, Honourable Siaosi Sovaleni
• Honourable Ministers from the Pacific Island countries including the Honourable Ministers from New Zealand and Australia
• Ambassador from the UAE, representing the COP28 Presidency
• Members of the Diplomatic Corp
• Representatives from our CROP Agencies, Development Partners and other Regional Organisations
• Representatives from the UNFCCC
• Distinguished Guests,
• Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good morning, Kia Orana and Ni Sa Bula Vinaka!
2. At the outset, allow me to acknowledge the vision and foresight of the Government of Fiji, together with the support of the UNFCCC Secretariat, to bring together this Pacific Small Island Developing States High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change.
3. Indeed, it is in opportunities such as this that we can gather, to discuss, to share experiences and to formulate agreed positions that can catalyse the kind of change that we want, and need to see on climate advocacy, globally.
4. In saying so, I am personally pleased to see so many familiar faces around the room this morning – political champions, advocates, experts, and dedicated national representatives who champion our collective positions and our priorities at climate negotiations, year in and year out.
5. Our climate negotiators are often our unsung heroes – this morning, I would like to pay tribute especially to each of you and our experts in the room today who continue to provide the very necessary advisory support to our delegations at international negotiating fora.
6. That said, I am very aware that each of us in the room today is not new to climate advocacy, climate negotiation and indeed, the perils of climate change that we, as a region, face everyday.
7. Climate change is the single greatest threat to our region, our islands, our oceans and of course our people.
8. To say that we need to see change is an understatement.
9. We need to see a strong commitment to elevated, ambitious and urgent climate action, now.
10. We cannot and should not, be forced to constantly live under the threat of climate change and climate induced disasters, while those most responsible for global warming continue to drag their feet when it comes to real and effective climate action.
11. On climate financing,
12. We need to expedite and finalise the ongoing discussions on global climate finance by COP 28, including the funding arrangements for Loss and Damage and the New Collective Quantified Goals.
13. On ambitious and effective climate action,
14. We have consistently advocated for the need to see ambitious commitments that will keep temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
15. How can we ensure stronger accountability through multilateral processes?
16. We will depend on the advice of the expertise in this room to guide our political messaging and advocacy.
17. Put simply, the work to be done is clear.
18. We call on our development partners to put aside your self-interest and profit motivations and join us in our fight against climate change.
19. We have gone far beyond the threshold of mere tokenistic support now. We need support that forces the change that we need to see.
20. Our very survival and that of our future generation, is on the line.
21. But we can and should take heart in what we have been able to champion, influence and achieve in the last 5 years alone:
a. Championed by Vanuatu, we have made ripples in international law with the call for an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice;
b. Under the leadership of the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands, Pacific countries have fought hard to drive the decarbonisation of the shipping industry;
c. Collectively, we have introduced watershed political pieces that will trailblaze new areas in international law, such as the Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of climate change-related Sea-level; and
d. To address our climate finance access challenges, we have designed the Pacific Resilience Facility – a Pacific led and owned financing facility to address our ongoing finance access issues and to help build resilience at the community level.
22. Ladies and Gentlemen,
23. In this room today, we have the potential and the expertise to develop a roadmap that will support our journey towards a successful COP 28.
24. I urge you all to be constructive, robust and thorough in your exchanges over the next two days.
25. Your political champions are here, your OneCROP Team, under the leadership of SPREP, stands ready to support you.
26. Use the time together over the next two days to reach some strong consensus on how best we can effectively move forward as a region.
27. You hold our future and that of our people in your hands.
28. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
29. With those brief remarks, I wish you all well in the deliberations over the next few days.
30. Meitaki Ma’ata and I thank you.
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