This year, next year and for the foreseeable future, our progress as a country will be defined by how we adapt to the climate challenge. Today, in Nabukadra Village, we take another step towards a more climate resilient Fiji by officially opening this new nature-based seawall.
No one in your community needs a lecture from me on the importance of climate action. As one of our nation’s many low-lying communities, you are painfully familiar with the impact that the rising seas, stronger storms, and changing weather patterns have had on Fiji’s development.
You have lived with the fear that everything you have built or dreamed of building could be washed away. You have suffered the anxiety of watching your old seawall be washed away, not knowing whether your children could safely call this community their home. And that sense of urgency drove you to request that this new seawall be built.
You asked, and your Government answered. This new seawall we have built harnesses the great power of nature to build a buffer between your homes and the encroaching tides.
This seawall is stronger than the old structure you had in place, which sadly was ill-suited to keeping this community’s 33 families out of harm’s way.
The Ministry of Waterways and Environment have employed this same model in many other coastal low-lying Fijian communities using boulders, vertiver grass and mangrove hedges to protect the soil from erosion and keep out the sea, particularly in times of severe weather. While nature may present a terrifying new challenge in the form of climate change, it can also serve as our best defense.
Increasingly, we are looking to nature-based solutions because of the many benefits they bring; they work well to adapt communities, they beautify places we live, they support new eco-systems and livelihoods, as and they are more affordable to implement.
The need for these new seawalls across the country is evidence of how vulnerable our coastal communities can be to the impacts of our changing climate. But, just as Nabukadra Village is not alone in dealing with climate impacts among Fijian communities, Fiji is not alone among the nations of the world in dealing with climate change.
This is a global issue that requires global solutions; solutions that Fiji’s leadership is helping to forge on the world stage.
And we will continue to address the root cause of this crisis by advocating that all countries curb the harmful pollution that is warming the planet and causing our climate to change.
This new seawall is just the latest evidence of a much larger vision that is unfolding before our eyes –– a vision for a strong and resilient Fiji.
And a vision for a world which is not threatened by human-kind’s irresponsible exploitation, but instead, one that sustainably thrives alongside humanity. I promise you this: I will continue to work, day in and day out, to ensure our children and grand-children inherit a Fiji, and a planet, that we can be proud to pass on to them.
I look forward to our chance to talanoa.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you and God Bless you all.