The Honourable Chair;
Secretary General, The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland;
Excellencies.Commonwealth Declaration on Climate Change
We have received more dire warnings about the state of climate change recently. It is far more advanced than we had previously thought, and I need not review the scientific evidence here. We all have seen it. It is still possible to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels, but only if governments, businesses and people worldwide commit to unprecedented change—and act on those commitments.

We have a three-headed challenge before us—serious mitigation worldwide to reduce carbon emissions and restore the health of the global ocean; adaptation to the effects of climate change that we are already seeing and that are affecting our infrastructure, our food supply and our health; and financing. For small vulnerable states, the first two are not possible without adequate financing. And I am not just referring to the amount of financing that must be made available, but of the need to develop financing that is fast, flexible and concessionary.

The most vulnerable among us, especially including small island developing states, must know that developed countries will fulfill the commitments they have made, starting with the goal of mobilising US$100 Billion annually through to 2025, and that they will significantly increase financing  for adaptation to at least 50%.

The Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub (CCFAH) is a strong step in the right direction because small and vulnerable member states bid for and gain increased access to climate finance.

We will need to harness all the creativity we can muster and all the solutions available to us.

Fiji is embracing nature-based solutions not just because they are cost-effective but because they use the resources nature gave us. One of humankind’s great failings over the centuries has been our arrogance that we can tame nature, that our technology is superior to nature. In the end, the abuse of that technology is one of the reasons we must appeal to nature to save us.

So Fiji and our Pacific Island neighbours are also embracing the goal of region-wide green and blue economies with the goal of creating a sustainable future in the midst of a healthy and sustainable Pacific Ocean.

The Ocean plays a pivotal role for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the Pacific retains its great economic potential for us as we commit to sustainable development pathways and invest in sustainable “blue” innovations.

The economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating for us, but we can look to recovery as an opportunity to do better—to build back greener, bluer, and stronger, and take the action for a sustainable, cleaner, inclusive and more resilient future.

Road to COP26
Fiji will strive to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by the middle of the century. This is an unwavering commitment, and we insist that others do no less. All Parties, in particular major emitters, must act without delay to submit high-ambition NDCs and long-term strategies with pathways to net zero in order to keep 1.5 degrees within reach ahead of COP 26. We will judge the adequacy of these commitments at the 2023 Global Stocktake. And Ladies and Gentlemen, if we find them insufficient, then we much reach deep inside and find ways to do more. Commitments must be recalibrated and strengthened if necessary.

There is too much at stake to cling to commitments that have become inadequate.

Fiji is leading by example, and we are proud to do so. We are one of the first countries to develop a National Adaptation Plan, and one of the few countries to incorporate its National Adaptation Plan into its 2020 updated NDCs.

But there is urgent work that remains unfinished, and we must go to COP26 resolved to finalise the outstanding elements of the Paris Rulebook.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I sometimes tire of repeating the same arguments about a crisis that is so evidently upon us.

But I am heartened by the progress we have made and by the fact that some of the reforms and actions we were advocating passionately five or six years ago are a reality. The work before us is still daunting, but it must be done, and we must resolve to meet the new challenges that reveal themselves—as we know they will.

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