Bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
I’ve been to a lot of climate conferences over the past few years, but let me tell you something – there’s something refreshing about this one. I think it boils down to a simple fact: You, my friends, are genuine.
You aren’t driven by hidden agendas or swayed by corporate interests. Your participation isn’t political. Your purpose is pure, and your passion is raw. Your voices are loud, and your commitments are real.
To me, your age doesn’t discredit you – in fact, the opposite is true. For you, saving our climate isn’t some passing phase or extra-curricular activity – it is the defining cause of your generation.
Because you know that the stakes couldn’t be higher: You are the generation that, due to no fault of your own, has inherited a climate emergency.
You were born into a world in which storms batter our shores with intensity that, just a few decades ago, would have been unimaginable.
You were born into a world in which entire ecosystems, from Pacific reefs to Amazonian rainforests, may not last beyond your own time on this planet.
You were born into a world in which words and phrases like “climate refugees” and “village relocation” –– concepts that were unheard of when I was your age – are tragically common points of discussion in Summits like this one.
I share your frustration. Nothing pains me more than seeing world Leaders actively ignoring the existence of a crisis that they helped create –– a crisis that they won’t live to see the consequences of. Their inaction is infuriating.
But where I find great frustration in my generation, I find great hope in yours.
“Act Later”, the mantra of politicians for far too long, is no longer being tolerated –– especially among the world’s young people. You know that we must act now – for every moment of inaction is a moment the world can’t get back.
I want you to know that your nation is leading on this issue. Fiji is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. We are not a major emitter, we all know that. Fiji contributes around point zero, zero six percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. But that does not make us too small to make a difference. No nation is. And we have a ground-breaking climate change Bill in the consultation process that will keep us accountable to our net-zero ambition.
I urge you to read that Bill, it is a development defining piece of legislation. And we are also doing the hard work of adapting to climate impacts, investing in resilient infrastructure, relocating vulnerable communities, and harnessing nature to build powerful buffers between Fijians and the rising seas.
By acting now, your nation is setting an example we hope the entire world will follow. And by acting now, each of you – the young hearts and minds in this room – will drive action in your homes and classrooms, in your communities, in all of Fiji, in the Pacific region, and the world over.
Your passion is precisely what the world needs, and your activism and ideas will be what finds solutions to the problems that those before you have created.
My friends, the next two days are a vital opportunity for young Fijians. Through the National Youth Climate Action Summit, Pacific youth will set an example for the world, showing that young Fijians aren’t just vulnerable bystanders or helpless onlookers – when it comes to protecting our planet, you are agents of real change.
As you work tirelessly to advance the global climate action agenda, and as you demand that Leaders act now, I – and the world – will be watching.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you – each and every one of you. God Bless Fiji.