SG: Climate change a danger now, not tomorrow

[Auckland, New Zealand] The 42nd Pacific Islands Forum has opened in Auckland, New Zealand with more expressions of concern for the immediate impact of climate change on the lives and livelihood of communities in the region.

In his remarks at the opening ceremony, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade said: “Climate change is a danger now, not an issue for tomorrow. Adaptation is a must, not an option.”

“The exposure of Pacific communities to the dangers of climate change is globally and well acknowledged; and climate change impacts remain at the centre of regional concerns,” said Mr Slade.

“Urgent mitigation, including through the reduction of fossil fuel dependence and energy efficiency, is critical to ensuring long-term sustainable economic growth and development.

“Comprehensive energy ‘road map’ initiatives are being undertaken in several Forum island countries, and we highly commend these efforts,” Mr Slade said.

He also commended the proposals to Leaders to improve option for Forum island countries in accessing global sources of climate change financing.

Mr Slade expressed appreciation to the many friends of the region and development partners for their assistance and support in this area.

“In particular, may I say to the Secretary General of the United Nations how especially grateful we are all are for his personal leadership. Secretary General, when you advocate for human safety and security in the face of climate change, you draw directly from our United Nations Charter, and we thank you for doing so.”

Forum Secretary General Mr Slade said the region is deeply honoured by the UN Secretary General’s presence at the Forum meeting, the first in the 40-year history of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Mr Slade also highlighted other issues that will be discussed by Forum Leaders at their meeting in the next couple of days.

This includes security and social issues including non-communicable diseases and what he described as “an old standing but increasingly dangerous state of unexploded ordnances from the Second World War.”

“As we seek to realise Pacific opportunities, we must not forget the responsibilities we have for our children and youth for they require employment and other opportunities for productive development and engagement. They are, in fact our most valuable resource, not just for the future, but for now.”

The theme for the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum is: “Converting Potential into Prosperity”.

Following the opening ceremony Forum Leaders went into an interactive session with the UN Secretary General and followed by a general plenary session.

Tomorrow Leaders will go on their Retreat at the Waiheke Island, about an hour’s ride by ferry from Auckland. Forum Leaders will meet with the region’s Post-Forum Dialogue Partners on Friday.

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For media enquiries contact the Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer Mr Johnson Honimae +64 (0)221563078 or email: johnsonh@forumsec.org.fj