The Minister for Climate Change, New Zealand, Honourable James Shaw;
The Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment (SPREP) Mr Kosi Latu,
Bula Vinaka and a very good evening to you all.
This evening wraps up a busy week for me here in Madrid.
I’ve had talanoa with youth leaders; told a story of hope, innovation, and opportunity to our allies in the private sector; shared bowls of kava with friends old and new; and I’ve advocated for accessible and affordable international climate finance.
But, priority number one this week has been advancing the Oceans Pacific Pathway. It has been an honour to stand with our Pacific family as we’ve pushed the rest of the world to create a channel in the UNFCCC process to recognise the climate crisis is an oceans crisis.
Over the past seven days, it’s often felt as if I’m traversing the world just in navigating these halls and pavilions. But in all I’ve seen, the energy and the ambition of this Moana Pavilion has been unmatched. As we’ve proved at so many COPs before, our pavilion is never defined by which country or, indeed, which hemisphere it sits.
Instead, it is defined by the people who gather within it and the passion we infuse into it. For the last two weeks, at this Blue COP, this Moana Pavilion has been home to ideas that shape and inspire the global conversations – none more so than the Ocean Pacific Pathway.
All week long, I’ve been hammering home a Pacific-led ultimatum: If the world continues to neglect and abuse the health of our oceans, we will bench our most valuable player in the climate action campaign. I could take this evening to remind you of the human consequences of the path we’re on. I’ve shared that story many times this week. So, I’d rather take this opportunity to speak about what gives me hope on this campaign; to speak about what we have achieved; and to cover where this campaign must head.
Since the Oceans Pathways launch at COP23, we’ve brought on board national and local governments, and a wide range of other committed champions to our Friends of the Ocean coalition.
That team has spoken with one united voice – amplified through the Chilean Presidency of this Blue COP – to request a dialogue be convened on the oceans-climate nexus by the Chair of the 52nd Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice.
Earlier today, we launched the Coalition for the 100 per cent Sustainable Management of the Oceans in pursuit of our ambitious mission to secure comprehensive management of our EEZs, with 30 per cent declared Marine Protected Areas by 2030. Yesterday, we joined with the Commonwealth Secretary-General to advance the oceans and climate action pathways as part of the Commonwealth Blue Charter. Alongside our friends from the World Wildlife Foundation, we also advocated for the health of our coral reefs; some of the world’s richest and most at-risk ecosystems.
But the week’s most critical work has been underway in the hall next door.
There, our Pacific negotiators have gone country-by-country to build a global coalition to support recognition of the oceans text. The final decision text has not yet emerged. Regardless, we have started a wave of oceanic momentum.
COP26 will mark five years since the achievement of the Paris Agreement. Those years of interventions must amount to something; all the words we’ve spoken must lead to something; and our people’s continued suffering at the hands of the high-emitters must count for something. Whether it is on land or in our seas, the unchecked rise of global emissions is unleashing untold destruction. At the end of the day, nothing matters more for oceans health than supplying the global commitments necessary to meet the 1.5-degree target. We need to see more ambitious NDCs materialise.
The clock is ticking. Come November 2020 – whoever has been chosen to lead the United Kingdom following today’s election should be prepared to oversee one of the most consequential COPs in history.
As Pacific leaders we’ll be arriving in Glasgow with immense and immovable expectations for global action. Our eyes – and the eyes of billions of concerned global citizens – are on the leaders of developed economies. In achieving net-zero, we will be accepting zero excuses.
For now, it’s “Moce, Moana” –but as we close out this decade, let us carry this pavilion’s legacy forward into 2020 and beyond.
I wish you all Merry Christmas, “Feliz Navidad”, God Bless!