SUVA, Fiji—6 August 2021— At the invitation of the Pacific Islands Forum Chair, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, US President Joseph Biden addressed the meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum and pledged America’s support to the Pacific in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and raising global ambition to tackle the climate crisis.
“Mr Prime Minister, thank you for the invitation and for Fiji’s leadership of the Forum through a time of significant challenge to the region and to the world,” said President Biden.
“Of course, there is no more immediate threat to all of us than COVID-19. This pandemic has taken a heavy toll and the lives lost can never ever be replaced. The economic impacts are going to require all of us to work together to drive an inclusive and sustained recovery.”
“The Pacific Island nations know better than anyone that averting the worst effects of climate change is going to save lives,” said President Biden. “The United States is committed to dramatically reducing our emissions by 2030 and building resilience in vulnerable communities globally.”
“Vinaka vakalevu, President Biden, for making history as the first US President to join us at the Forum, and for bringing America forcefully back to the right side of climate history,” said Prime Minister Bainimarama.
“Fiji and the USA’s net-zero commitments by 2050 must become the entire world’s –– zero excuses. Together –– as a united Pacific –– we look to securing a historic outcome in Glasgow at COP26 which brings the 1.5-degree Celsius target within reach.”
Prime Minister Bainimarama also welcomed President Biden’s pledge of half a billion doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility.
“This global pandemic only ends one way: By vaccinating as many people as possible around the world as quickly as can be done,” he said. “Much of the Global South is well behind developing nations in terms of protecting their populations –– and the United States has a vital role to play in ensuring all people have the opportunity to be protected against the virus through vaccines.”
The Prime Minister also extended an invitation to President Biden to visit Fiji.
“We hope you can visit us in Fiji, where you’ll see the struggle –– and the solutions –– at the front line of the climate crisis.”
The 51st Forum meetings will continue in the coming months with the Forum Chair leading virtual dialogues with civil society, the private sector, Forum dialogue partners and other regional organisations. A plenary will be held with associate members and Forum observers. A Special Leaders Retreat is planned on the margins of COP 26, and an in-person Leaders Retreat is planned for Fiji in January 2022.
Founded in 1971, the Pacific Islands Forum is the region’s premier political and economic policy organisation and it comprises of 18 members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.