The Deputy Director-General of the Pacific Community;
UK Envoy to the Commonwealth;
Heads of Missions;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It’s a pleasure to join you this evening as we open the doors of this new office and welcome the Regional Pacific NDC Hub to its new home at the South Pacific Secretariat Campus in Nabua.
Nearly five years ago, in the lead up to COP21, the Fijian capital saw the launch of the Suva Declaration, a milestone in the campaign which ultimately secured the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degrees Celsius target. So, I can’t imagine a better berth for this Regional Hub than Suva, as you support Pacific nation’s unrelenting pursuit of ambitious climate action.
The only path to net-zero emissions in our region is a path by which Pacific people walk hand-in-hand. This Hub was borne from that recognition; a recognition that regional co-operation is essential to progress, and that the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. As Pacific nations, we share extreme climate vulnerabilities, as we share many challenges in tailoring climate plans to our frontline realities.
Only by listening, learning and working with one another can ambitious, realistic plans take form. And I’m not only talking about governments. Ambitious NDCS require engagement from local communities, businesses, academic institutions, and civic organisations; everyone a role to play.
Since its inception in 2017, this Regional Hub has transformed from an idea among Pacific leadership to a pillar of our region’s world-leading efforts to curb carbon emissions and build climate resilience. And we look forward to working with your newly appointed Co-ordinator, Ms Christine Deo-Reddy, to harness the might of Pacific co-operation in reviewing, enhancing and implementing our collective Nationally Determined Contributions.
The total carbon emissions from Pacific Island Countries are negligible. But that’s no reason to sit on our hands and watch our future be shaped from the sidelines. No government can excuse climate inaction on the basis of their emissions being only a fraction of the world’s total.
Every nation must strengthen their commitments, because every percentage drop in global emissions matters. And every solution, forged at any scale, can be a difference-maker for the global campaign to cap temperature rise at 1.5 degrees.
Pacific people are suffering dearly from the climate crisis. But this problem extends far beyond any of our borders. It is a global emergency, its consequences impact every person on the planet, and every nation must act decisively to stave off catastrophe. As Pacific Leaders, whether we’re speaking from the floor of the United Nations or sitting across from our higher-emitting counterparts, we can certainly wield our moral authority to great effect. But there is far more power in saying, “If we can do it, so can you. If we can summon the courage and creativity to grow sustainable economies, surely, you can do the same. Because if a Pacific Island nation can achieve net zero emissions, larger, developed nations of the world have zero excuses.”
When we lead by doing we lead with credibility. We bring real commitment, real experiences and real solutions to addressing this crisis. By joining Pacific ingenuity with the expertise of our development partners, we’re creating living laboratories of climate innovation. We’re incubating ideas that can literally shift the course of history. And we’re actively authoring our future as we support a world economy that uplifts our people now without compromising the security of coming generations.
We’re still in the midst of the cyclone season in the South Pacific. In Fiji’s case, cyclones Sarai and Tino have served us brutal reminders of the grave and worsening threat to our citizenry’s lives and livelihoods. These severe storms, the rising seas and changing weather patterns demand equal urgency be given to the business of building climate resilience.
Increasingly, we’re driving solutions that slash emissions and strengthen our ability to withstand climate impacts, paving the way towards resilient, carbon-neutral Pacific communities. And I draw tremendous optimism from the passion and innovation that policy-makers and experts are supplying that effort through this Regional Hub.
Grinding the gears of global change can be slow and frustrating going. It’s easy to grow disillusioned on day 14 of intense climate negotiations, watching the global good besieged by short-term selfishness and economic nationalism. But the courageous commitments emerging from Fiji and our fellow Pacific Islands fill me with faith that the rest of world will soon follow suit.
I’d like to thank the German, British, New Zealand and Australian governments for helping make this new office a reality, and for all their support towards the implementation of ambitious Pacific NDCs. Your co-operation is vital.
We need our partners to not only match the climate commitments we’re putting forward in Fiji and across the Pacific, but to join us in pushing the rest of the world to do the same.
With those few words, it is my pleasure to declare this Office officially open.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.