I’d like to thank the Spanish and Chilean governments for facilitating this vital dialogue on the fundamental and necessary changes in how we approach economic development in a warming world.
We all know the science is unequivocally clear – we have at most 30 years to transition to a global economic system that produces net-zero emissions and limit warming to the 1.5-degree target in the Paris Agreement.
We know the impacts of climate change are accelerating and intensifying more quickly than we anticipated. We know that, if nothing changes, we are releasing emissions at a rate and scale that could render vast stretches of our planet uninhabitable.
And we know that, even if we meet the 2050 target of net-zero emissions, the record-high CO2 emissions already in our atmosphere will intensify climate impacts in the near-term. Roads will continue to be flooded by rising seas, cities will continue to be devastated by increasingly severe storms, and intense droughts will become commonplace.
The Global Commission on Adaptation has found that every dollar invested in adaptation returns more than four dollars in net economic, social and environmental benefits. But we’ll only see those returns if we start building this new economic system now.
To get there, we need to mainstream climate considerations across our planning and decision-making processes. To drive this crucial mainstreaming, Fiji was the first country in the world to embed the climate change division within our Ministry of Economy, engraining climate considerations across national planning. Throughout this year, 51 finance ministers have come together to launch the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action. And just yesterday, finance ministers met for the first time at COP to launch their action plan to mainstream climate change in their ministries.
Fiji is also one of several countries to develop a National Adaptation Plan in line with the UNFCCC guidelines and we’ve leveraged technical support from our development partners to implement adaptation projects tailored to our unique vulnerabilities, whether it is building seawalls, relocating communities, planting mangroves or boosting our agro-resilience.
But it will take more than well-informed policy to build a resilient world, it will take vast financial resources. In Fiji’s case, the World Bank estimates that it will cost 4.5 billion US dollars to adapt our economy over the next decade – roughly the value of our entire economy.
Furthermore, adaptation investments rarely generate short-term returns. For example, when we bury electric cables to protect them from cyclones, we don’t see an immediate spike in economic activity. But over time, as storms bear down on our country, we both save ourselves – and the next generation – the enormous costs of rebuilding that critical infrastructure.
However, the narrow focus of the climate finance frameworks at our disposal don’t grant full recognition to the long-term nature of adaptive investments. We need to develop metrics that capture the social, environmental, and economic benefits of building adaptive infrastructure and cultivating healthy, resilient ecosystems.
We need to see an expansion in grants and concessional finance. We need all our partners to utilise such metrics.
In this global effort, adaptation admission requires that UNFCCC processes must collectively develop clear frameworks on how countries and others enlisted in this campaign can facilitate and scale adaptation agendas. This ministerial dialogue is an important opportunity to advance that framework –– let’s use it wisely.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.