It gives me great pleasure to be with you today to launch the Regional Pacific NDC Hub’s Strategy 2030 – a document that lays out climate action for the Pacific – our vision for sustainable, low-carbon growth and development and climate resilience.
Fiji is honoured to host the Pacific NDC Hub on behalf of all our neighbours. The NDC Hub is a major collective effort. It reflects the common challenges and the common aspirations of the Pacific peoples. It helps us share our accumulated wisdom and experience. It helps us take our future into our own hands in the face of the most serious challenge the world faces today. It is one more thing that unites us and gives us a voice and a message to the rest of the world.
That message is that we Pacific people will not wait for events to control us. We welcome solutions from everywhere, but will not wait for others to come up with them. We have ingenuity and experience and research and scientific knowledge to bring to the table for our own benefit.
We may have differences from time to time within the Pacific family—like all families—but in this we are united by the very strongest bonds. We are bound together to ensure our common destiny and protect our common heritage. Even as small countries, we can accomplish much by uniting our efforts and combining our strength—and never letting anything distract us from the existential threat we face together.
We have known for a long time that we are nowhere close to putting the world on a pathway to keep global warming to 1.5°C by the end of this century. It is a deeply troubling fact, but it cannot be a pretext for losing hope. On the contrary, we need a greater commitment by large carbon emitters to reduce greenhouse gases. And we need to do more—to mitigate and to adapt.
I know that the impact of the combined efforts of all of us represented here will have a negligible effect on the global picture. But we still must do our part, for our own good. And we still must lead by example. The large emitters are coming along slowly. We need to push them to do more—and to do it quickly.
The Pacific region has led from the beginning. We were all there in Paris, pushing for a goal of limiting warming to below two degrees Celsius. The launch of the Regional Pacific NDC Hub in 2017—at the COP23 climate conference—was a historic moment for all of us. It showed that we were not just talk, not just victims. It was a statement that we would take concrete, pragmatic, collective action to fulfil our nationally determined climate pledges under the Paris Agreement.
I am proud to say that the region is rising to the challenge of climate change – from raising the ambition of our NDCs to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and by making our infrastructure more resilient to committing to sustainable development and the goal of a blue economy for the Pacific. The more ambitious path that we are taking commits us to a faster transition to renewable energy, more efficient utilisation of our forests and mangroves – nature’s carbon capture – and a whole range of innovative mechanisms to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This is not just to set an example, if the recent freighter wedged in the Suez Canal proves anything, it’s that fossil fuels are not only filthy, they can be unreliable.
Renewable energy offers autonomy and independence to Pacific countries, protecting us from disruptions and hikes in petrol prices and taking us from price-takers to price-makers in the energy marketplace.
Strategy 2030 was developed through robust country consultations and truly embodies the broader development agenda for the Pacific Island countries.
The NDC Hub’s 2030 Strategy reflects the urgency expressed in the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now and complements the forthcoming 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, which represents the ongoing commitment of the region to work together as one to develop long-term approaches to critical challenges such as climate change, sustainable development and security. Furthermore, it represents the region’s effort to implement and achieve the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and its Sustainable Development Goals.
We have other strategies to guide us in this work: the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific, the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development, and the Framework for Energy Security and Resilience in the Pacific 2021 – 2030, which is now in the planning stages.
Strategy 2030 reflects the fact that climate action and sustainable development are inseparable. As we rebuild our economies from the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, climate investments present a unique opportunity for Pacific economies to build back better and ensure a green, blue, and inclusive recovery.
This will require a bit of ingenuity on our part as we develop our policies. It will require us to assertively seek genuine partnerships that translate these policies into action. We will have to make our case. And we will have to listen. But we must seize this opportunity.
Through the Strategy 2030, we are working as a region to transform our societies. We will have to change some of the ways to which we have become accustomed. In fact, everyone will have to change, not just us. We will have to revise our energy policies and adjust our economies to respect the hand that nature has dealt us. Today, we ask our development partners to renew your commitment to the Pacific NDC Hub and stay with us for the long term as we implement our NDCs.
This work is critical, and not just for us. The world is a place where innovations and revolutionary solutions can spring up anywhere. I dare say that we are already developing solutions that can be exported anywhere. And that will be one more contribution that we make.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is not for me to recount the damage that has been done, the trends we see, the risks we face, and the hard work that is ahead of us. We know them all too well. It is up to us to keep working together to defend our part of the world. We already have taken on an outsized role in the global fight against climate change.
We are contributing more than our share to the global effort through our NDCs, and we are raising a voice that rings with truth, clarity and moral authority. But we must take care of ourselves and do what is right for us, together. And that will serve the entire world.
I have spoken of partnerships, and so I want to speak a little about our partners. I would like to thank the Governments of Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the UK for providing seed funding for this regional initiative. The Pacific NDC Hub has been operational since 2018 and provided technical support to 14 Pacific Island countries to implement their NDCs.
I also want to recognize the founding partners of the Pacific NDC Hub, including the German Society for International Co-operation, better known as G.I.Z. (Please don’t ask me to say the name in German.) And also the Pacific Community, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the Global Green Growth Institute, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Together, these organisations bring to the table a unique combination of technical expertise, knowledge, skills and valuable physical presence to support the fulfilment of our NDCs in the Pacific region.
They cover a very wide range of expertise, including in the critical area of gaining access to global public finance for climate action.
We are in this together, and we are grateful to have you with us, now and in the future. It is now my pleasure to launch this Strategy and start our journey to 2030.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.