ECC Platform Library

Fiji’s Vision for COP23

19 May, 2017
Frank Bainimarma

Fiji Islands

Fiji Islands
Fiji. Photo credits: Matthew Kane/Unsplash (CC 0 1.0)

The Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama, as incoming President of the UN Climate Change Conference in autumn in Bonn (COP23, 6-17 November), addressed delegates on the final day of the May UN Climate Change Conference in the former German capital. In his address, he set out his vision for Fiji's Presidency of COP23. During his speech, the new Presidency COP23 website was launched, and a powerful video showing the impacts of climate change on Fiji was screened (see below).

 

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all,

I’m delighted to join you all in Bonn towards the end of your current deliberations but at the start of a very big year for me personally as incoming President of COP23.

I want to begin by paying tribute to the current President of COP22 His Excellency, Mr. Salaheddine Mezouar, his Chief Negotiator Ambassador Aziz Mekouar and the Climate Champion Hakima El Haite and to say how much the global community has appreciated Morocco’s leadership. It has had a challenging mission as the first nation to assume the Presidency after the historic agreement that we reached in Paris in 2015.

Certainly, the ball is being passed to Fiji this year at a very critical time. But we very much appreciate the way that ball has been positioned to give us the best opportunity to kick it forward ourselves. And as incoming President, I very much appreciate the assistance of the Moroccans to this point and their pledge to continue to support us, just as we will assist Poland when the time comes for us to do so in 2018.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I also want to acknowledge and thank the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Her Excellency Patricia Espinosa, and her entire team for the support they are giving Fiji. And, of course, I want to pay special tribute to the Government and people of Germany for their wonderful gesture facilitating COP23 being held here in the beautiful city of Bonn.

This has enabled Fiji to become the first Small Island Developing State to assume the Presidency of this very important process which encompasses the formal negotiations and the partnerships for action.

By extending a hand of friendship to Fijians and Pacific Islanders, Germany is empowering us and giving us a voice that we would never have had without that assistance.

So vinaka vakalevu – thank you – to the people of Germany and the people of Bonn for embracing us in the way that you have. And we look forward very much to working together in a spirit of friendship and collaboration to make COP23 Fiji Bonn an unqualified success.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I also want to thank you all for the support you have given Fiji in these sessions - to our Chief Negotiator, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem-Khan, our Climate Champion, Minister Inia Seruiratu, our Climate Ambassador, Ambassador Deo Saran and our Pacific Special Representative, Amena Yauvoli. Many of you have already had the benefit of meeting them. But for those of you who haven’t may I ask them to stand. Because you will certainly be seeing a lot more of them in the coming months, along with the rest of Team Fiji.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, as incoming COP President, I will be relying a great deal on my team, and especially Ambassador Shameem-Khan. I see myself more as the team captain, leading from the front, giving encouragement and persuasion where it’s needed. And fulfilling my promise to bring the non-state actors closer to this process by not only spending a great deal of time here in what we are calling the Bula Zone, but over in the Bonn Zone down the road. Because I am convinced that pursuing an inclusive process that ultimately involves every global citizen is the best way – the only way – to move our collective agenda forward.

My role, of course, is to be impartial, to act in the collective interest of all nations. But I certainly bring my own perspective to these negotiations. And it is that of a Fijian, a Pacific Islander, who comes from a region of the world that is bearing the brunt of climate change. Whether it is the rising seas, extreme weather events or changes to agriculture, that threaten our way of life and in some cases, our very existence.

We who are most vulnerable must be heard, whether we come from the Pacific or other Small Island Developing States, other low lying nations and states or threatened cities in the developed world like Miami, New York, Venice or Rotterdam. But together we must speak out for the whole world - every global citizen - because no-one, no matter who they are or where they live, will ultimately escape the impact of climate change.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, many of you have asked what Fiji’s vision is for COP23. The principles that will govern our Presidency. Our aims and objectives. Well, acknowledging the important leadership roles of past COP Presidencies in laying the foundation for a robust COP23, Fiji's vision for COP23 is this:

  • To advance the work of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and preserve the multilateral consensus for decisive action to address the underlying causes of climate change, respecting climate science.
  • To uphold and advance the Paris Agreement, ensure progress on the implementation guidelines and undertake consultations together with the Moroccan COP22 Presidency to design the process for the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.
  • To build greater resilience for all vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and rising sea levels; to enable access to climate adaptation finance, renewable energy, clean water and affordable climate risk and disaster insurance; and to promote sustainable agriculture.
  • To forge a grand coalition to accelerate climate action before 2020 and beyond between civil society, the scientific community, the private sector and all levels of government, including cities and regions. I repeat: We are all vulnerable and we all need to act.
  • To harness innovation, enterprise and investment to fast track the development and deployment of climate solutions that will build future economies with net zero greenhouse gas emissions, in an effort to limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • To draw a stronger link between the health of the world’s oceans and seas and the impacts of, and solutions to, climate change as part of a holistic approach to the protection of our planet.
  • To infuse COP23 with the Fijian “Bula Spirit” of inclusiveness, friendliness and solidarity and promote the Pacific concept of talanoa. This is a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue that builds empathy and leads to decision making for the collective good. It is not about finger pointing and laying blame but is about listening to each other, learning from each other, sharing stories, skills and experiences. By focusing on the benefits of action, this process will move the global climate agenda forward.

In summary, Fiji's vision is for a Presidency that is transparent and inclusive of all, advances the Paris Agreement and accelerates climate action for all vulnerable societies, drawing on our own experiences as a Small Island Developing State in the Pacific.

So Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, that is Fiji’s vision for COP23, one that is inclusive and is very much focused on maintaining the momentum for the implementation of what was agreed in Paris at the end of 2015. A diplomatic triumph that I have described as France’s gift to the world for the sake of all 7.5 billion people on earth.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, for a small nation like Fiji with limited capacity and a tropical cyclone last year that wiped out one third of our GDP, this Presidency is a financial challenge.

I would like to warmly thank those nations that have already contributed to Fiji’s Presidency – China, the United States, the European Union and Germany, and organisations such as UNDP and the Asian Development Bank. I also have the great pleasure to announce that during the course of the last few days we have been given a significant contribution from Australia and financial support from NZ. We are extremely grateful for these contributions. We are in discussions with a number other countries and organisations regarding additional financial assistance, but we would welcome any assistance from those who have the means to support us.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, in closing I have the great pleasure to formally unveil Fiji’s dedicated website for COP23. On it, you will find a range of information about our plans for the coming year, as well as information about the effects of climate change on our people and other Pacific Islanders. Plus, of course, general information about Fiji and our engagement with the rest of the world.

Those of you with computer access can log on now at www.cop23.com.fj but I hope you will all eventually access this very important tool for our Presidency. As well as our mission to explain the impact of climate change on our own people and the rest of the Pacific.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible, not only during the rest of this session but when we gather together again in Bonn in November. I see myself as very much a people’s President and undoubtedly by the end of this process, a guy called Frank from Fiji will have selfies with people from all over the world.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

 

These are his remarks as prepared for delivery.

[This content originally appeared in the UN Climate Change Newsroom.]

 

See the video screened at the beginning of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama's address:

 

 

 

 

ArticleClimate Diplomacy
Source
Topic
Climate Diplomacy

Region
Oceania & Pacific

Topics

Adaptation & Resilience

All countries will need to adapt to some of the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change that are already unavoidable. Food security, livelihoods, water resource availability and public health are some affected areas. People living in poverty are more vulnerable, having a lower capacity to adapt. Thus, it is essential to promote resilience building. The adaptation and resilience aspects need to be mainstreamed into planning by policy makers and the private sector as well as integrated into development strategies.

Biodiversity & Livelihoods

Nature protection is most sustainable if it essentially contributes to the long-term stability of human needs. Today many regions around the world are confronted with increasing destruction of the natural foundations of life. The consequences of wide-ranging resource destruction are no longer regionally limited, but rather represent a global threat. Those affected are mainly rural populations, who find the sources of their income and the foundations of their way of life swept away. The depletion and destruction of natural resources goes hand in hand with decreasing agricultural yields and increasing poverty, which in turn forces the affected populations to deplete the remaining resources.

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Capacity Building

On the one hand, conflicts are caused by structural factors, such as economic and social inequality or environmental destruction. On the other hand, conflicts are fuelled by a lack of democratic structures, deficient mechanisms of non-violent conflict settlement, inadequate rule of law, the destruction of social and cultural identity and the disregard of human rights. Against this backdrop, development policies have been dedicated to a broad concept of security, which comprises political, economic, ecological and social stability. As a consequence, development cooperation agencies and actors have developed a broad spectrum of approaches for conflict prevention and transformation as well as for sustainable use of natural resources.

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Civil Society

Civil society is the first victim of environmental pollution, under-development and conflicts. Economically disadvantaged and politically marginalized population groups are particularly affected by violent conflicts as well as increasing resource degradation. Simultaneously, civil society is a fundamental pillar for implementing sustainable development. It contributes in many ways to strengthening conflict prevention and plays a significant role in the peaceful and democratic development of states. It must be supported to strengthen civil rights, adherence to human rights in general and democratic participation.

Climate Change

Climate change resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases represents one of the vital challenges for international environmental policy. Flooding, droughts, shifting of climate zones and increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events will have serious economic and social consequences for entire regions. The climate problem is also directly linked to the question of future energy generation.

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Climate Diplomacy

To address the challenges posed by climate change, a new profile of climate diplomacy is evolving. This utilises a full range of policies, including development cooperation, conflict prevention efforts, and humanitarian assistance, in addition to more traditional measures of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moving from a risk analysis of climate-related threats to well-timed preventive action requires a greater commitment to integrating climate change concerns into development, foreign, and security policies. Examples include strengthening diplomatic networks, building new alliances with partners, and raising awareness – not only of potentially negative climate change impacts, but also of opportunities to embark on a sustainable transformation of our societies.

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Co-Benefits

Climate action entails an array of economic, social, political and environmental co-benefits. It provides an opportunity for economic growth and new jobs. Many investments can take into account climate considerations without becoming more costly. Further important co-benefits include: improved energy security, less local air and water pollution, health benefits as well as ecosystem and biodiversity protection.

Conflict Transformation

In order to overcome the structural causes of violent conflicts and thus bring about an improvement in the framework conditions for peaceful and fair development, it is essential to have long term and broadly planned peace development and peace advancement. Various governmental and non-governmental, national and international actors and groups are involved in these processes.

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Development

Climate change and development are inextricably linked. Climate change endangers the development agenda and has the potential to reverse development goals. Furthermore, successful mitigation of climate change heavily depends on development choices around the world. Therefore, development strategies need to be climate-compatible to provide long-term success, and there are viable policy options that support this compatibility. Many mitigation and adaptation activities can present development opportunities to developing countries and avoid the lock-in to environmentally damaging technologies.

Early Warning & Risk Analysis

The reasons for the development and escalation of conflicts and the incidence of risks are multifaceted and complex. Simultaneously, the assessment of the specific causes in the form of risk and conflict analyses can contribute to a better understanding of these processes and make it possible to provide warning of negative developments, or ideally help prevent them. In the context of natural resource use, risks and conflicts have gained increasing attention in the past years. The debate on possible future water wars is merely one example.

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Energy

The well-being of individuals, communities and nations depends on the availability of energy resources. The gap between energy supply and demand appears to be growing, making the world vulnerable to serious economic shocks. At the same time, the burning of fossil fuels causing climate change is one of the vital challenges of international environmental policy. So far, only rudimentary approaches exist for shaping climate and energy security in a sustainable way. The components of a strategy that can contribute to reducing vulnerabilities related to climate change and energy policy include a greater role for renewable energies, the improvement of energy efficiency and a stronger decentralisation of energy supply.

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Environment & Migration

The economic, social and environmental consequences of climate change aggravate the breakdown of eco-system-dependent livelihoods and are likely to become dominant drivers of long-term migration. Natural disasters already cause massive shorter-term displacement and the number of temporarily displaced people is likely to further increase with climate change. For vulnerable populations in vulnerable regions, such as the Sahel zone or the Ganges delta, migration often becomes the sole survival strategy. In order to address climate-related displacement and migration successfully, knowledge of effective adaptation and an improved understanding of how environmental change affects human mobility is essential. 

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Finance

Climate finance, from all sources, plays a key role in supporting and enabling adaptation and mitigation action as well as climate and energy innovation. The Paris Agreement ensured that the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility are at the core of climate finance architecture as entities entrusted with the operation of the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC. Increasing climate finance from all relevant public and private sources is crucial. Furthermore, much needs to be done to redirect finance flows to sustainable paths, e.g. reducing fossil fuel subsidies, introducing maritime and air transportation taxes. The conditions for green investment in developing countries should also be improved.

Forests

Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Competition for forest resources triggers, exacerbates, or finances numerous crises and conflicts in tropical developing countries. Illegal logging and timber trade foster instability and sometimes violent conflict by strengthening illegal and armed groups, increasing corruption and exacerbating use and claim conflicts among local communities, the state and the business sector. Forests are a vital resource to poor people but they can also become areas of conflict. Sustainable management of forest resources is therefore key to preventing violent conflict over and within forests.

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Gender

Gender plays an important role as a category of conflict for many reasons. The interlinkages between gender, environment and conflicts are complex and much research is still needed. Existing insights suggest that conflicts may worsen gender inequalities that existed before the outbreak of violence. The unequal distribution of land property rights in many parts of the world serves as an example. Moreover, women (and children) are among those most affected by both violent conflict and natural disasters. At the same time, women carry much of the burden of trying to implement rehabilitation measures after crisis events.

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Land & Food

Increasing water scarcity, desertification and crop failures due to extreme weather events are becoming more and more of a threat to global food production. While the world’s population continues to grow rapidly, food production is unable to keep pace. Due to the global food crisis in 2008, the number of hungry people reached the symbolic one billion threshold for the first time – corresponding to about 16 percent of world population. Food insecurity may be a consequence or cause of conflicts. Violent conflicts often lead to the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and means of production, as well as to the displacement of local communities.

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Minerals & Mining

In the past, the discovery and tapping of valuable or strategic resources like valuable minerals, oil and natural gas, particularly in developing and emerging countries, has often led to large scale environmental contamination and negative development. The "resource curse" of some countries shows that the wealth from resource yields is frequently unfairly distributed; instead of serving development it advanced the formation of corrupt elites and in some cases even led to conflicts and civil wars. Measures in various sectors and at all levels are important in order to use the potential of these natural resources in a manner that is sustainable and prevents conflicts.

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Private Sector

The spread of violent conflict not only affects people but also companies located in such regions. Destruction of investments and infrastructure, collapse of markets and trade partnerships, flight and expulsion of employees are phenomena of conflicts and environment-induced crises that directly affect companies in unstable regions. Almost all branches of the economy thus have a clear interest in a stable and peaceful environment for their activities. Conversely, the business sector plays an important role in the interaction of economic growth, social development and a healthy environment, all of which can advance peace and sustainable development. 

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Security

Environmental issues have a significant security dimension. Access to, and overuse of, natural resources often play a key role in civil wars or other forms of internal domestic conflict. This is compounded by climate change and environmental degradation. Climate change is now widely recognised as a non-traditional, risk-multiplying threat that will have increasing security impacts. Key risks with possible implications for human and national security include water scarcity, food crises, natural disasters, and displacement. More preventive diplomacy and advocacy is needed to address the strategic implications of climate and environmental change.

Sustainable Transformation

Sustainable Transformation allows societies to profit from a growing, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economy – especially in emerging and developing countries. This requires a higher up-front investment, but the benefits of a sustainable transformation in the medium and long term are significant. For instance, energy cost savings and reducing the impact of price volatility offer major incentives for deploying renewable energies and promoting energy efficiency. Such benefits exist in all key sectors of the economy.

Technology & Innovation

Innovations and technologies are already readily available and affordable but their global diffusion and uptake remains a challenge. Innovation and technology are crucial to achieving ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation targets. However, research and development often do not receive appropriate public support. Developing countries can leapfrog high-carbon industrialisation phases by adopting, deploying and improving existing innovations and technologies. For this, it is essential to minimise financial, administrative and political barriers.

Water

The availability of freshwater resources in sufficient quantity and quality is essential for the preservation of human health and sound ecosystems. The use of water resources is also vital, however, for economic development: whether for agriculture, industrial production or for electricity generation. The world's freshwater resources are distributed very unevenly in terms of geography and seasons. In addition, water shortage is becoming more prevalent in several regions due to population growth, economic development, urbanisation and increasing environmental pollution. Thus, water resources can hold potential for conflicts between parties who have different interests and needs.

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Regions

Asia

The environment in Asia is already under tremendous pressure as a result of the unsustainable use of land, forests, water and even air in many regions. Climate change will only exacerbate these challenges. Rising sea levels will likely endanger densely populated areas, changes in the monsoon patterns can strongly impact agriculture, melting glaciers will increase long-term water scarcity, and extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and cyclones can pose further hazards.

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Central America & Caribbean

Natural disasters and water scarcity are key challenges for most of Central America and the Caribbean. These challenges will become even more pronounced as the climate changes. Weak resource and disaster risk management and land disputes pose additional security challenges for large parts of the region. Several countries of Central America and the Caribbean have limited adaptive capacities as they face political instability caused by high social inequality, crime, corruption, and intra-state conflicts.

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Europe

As one of the most developed and most densely populated regions in the world, Europe makes heavy use of its resources, resulting in difficult trade-offs and negative consequences for the environment and ecosystems. Land is used for settlements, agriculture and dense infrastructure, creating problems of soil degradation. Water resources are stressed due to unsustainable agricultural practices. Despite nature protection policies, Europe continues to lose biodiversity at an alarming pace. Some of these trends are exacerbated by climate change, which is expected, for instance, to lead to shifts in water availability.

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Global Issues

Resource scarcities, environmental pollution and climate change are not limited by national borders, but often have a transboundary or even global impact. These issues interact with political stability, governance structures and economic performance, and can trigger or worsen disputes and violent conflicts. Exacerbating some of these trends, climate change is likely to lead to the degradation of freshwater resources, declines in food production, increases in storm and flood disasters and environmentally induced migration. All these developments pose potential for conflict.

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Middle East & North Africa

The geopolitical position of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), its fossil fuel resources, high population growth and the political changes spurred by the Arab Spring all make the region one of the most dynamic in the world. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most arid and environmentally stressed. Dwindling water resources, limited arable and grazing land, high pollution from household and industrial waste, remnants of conflicts and increasing desertification are key environmental challenges.

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North America

Climate change has various impacts on the three North American countries of Canada, Mexico and the US. Canada and the US have well-developed adaptive capacities and foster the strengthening of capacities in other regions as well. With high per capita emissions, these two countries also bear a greater responsibility for a changing climate. Mexico has a sound national strategy for climate change adaptation, yet fewer capacities than Canada and the US. The poorer and rural populations of Mexico are especially vulnerable to climate change, due to an increased sensitivity and a lower adaptive capacity.

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Oceania & Pacific

In Oceania, population growth and economic development trends put a strain on oceanic and island ecosystems. Freshwater scarcity, overexploitation of fisheries, loss of land biodiversity, forests and trees, invasive species, soil degradation, increasing levels of settlement, poor management of solid and hazardous waste and disproportionate use of coastal areas are some of the problems. Climate change exacerbates most of these trends, while also raising questions about the future sovereignty of some island states.

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South America

South America has diverse and unique ecosystems and is very rich in biodiversity. Weak natural resource management, land disputes and extreme weather events bring about significant challenges for the region. While South America accounts for relatively few CO2 emissions, the changing climate will alter its ecosystems and greater climate variability will lead to more hurricanes, landslides, and droughts.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

In many African states, environmental security issues rank high on the political agenda. Throughout the continent, countries suffer from water scarcity, food insecurity and energy poverty. These chronic and worsening resource scarcities have severe livelihood implications and are exacerbated by political conflicts over access to and control over these resources. Climate change may seriously threaten political and economic stability in Africa. It may also put a severe strain on the capacities of states and societies to co-ordinate activities, to communicate and to organize.

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