His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales,
The Chair in Office of the Commonwealth, His Excellency Boris Johnson,
The incoming Chair of the Commonwealth, His Excellency Paul Kagame,
Distinguished members of this Forum,
Bula vinaka and Greetings from Suva.
I convey my appreciation to His Royal Highness, and to the respective Chairs of the Commonwealth, for convening this roundtable discussion with my counterparts from the region.
Excellencies, we are in a global crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a health crisis. It is also a social and economic crisis with far-reaching consequences.
The setback to the global economy has led to major interruptions leading to widespread unemployment and increased poverty. This is quite evident across the Pacific.
These past few weeks have not been easy for my Government and the Fijian people. We fully contained covid19 for a year, but this disease has now managed to escape into our communities. We know it will be a long, tough road ahead, but we succeeded once and are confident that we will stop this virus again.
Our region is also battling a parallel planetary pandemic of sorts due directly to climate change. Extreme bio-diversity loss, frequent and intense weather events, and sea-level rise are setting back socio-economic progress that has been painstakingly built over decades.
Fiji welcomes the carbon-emission commitments made at the recent US Climate Summit by larger developed nations. We salute the United Kingdom for its commitment to embed into law its carbon-emission target of 78% below 1990 levels by 2035.
That is wonderful news, but for us, there is no choosing between the battles. We are battling both simultaneously.
It is evident we will require medium- to long-term concessionary financing targeted to the needs and special circumstances of Pacific states.
Excellencies, Fiji is walking the talk. We continue to press on through the creative mobilisation of domestic resources, innovative capital market instruments such as Green Bonds and financing arrangements through bilateral and multilateral partners.
We have committed to stronger nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. Our National Adaptation Plan maps out a multi-billion-dollar effort to strengthen our climate resilience. We have also committed to plant 30 million trees and sustainably manage our vast ocean space by 2030.
Excellencies, a holistic approach is needed. We must move toward an inclusive and broad-based economy, build on sustainable blue and green economic models, use nature-based technologies and solutions, and accelerate the move to net-zero carbon emissions.
Fiji has set the path to create a sustainable economy that can accommodate a dynamic private sector, attract investors, facilitate capital and new technology, and support diversification into new sectors.
Long-term sustainability will require greater resources and capacity to fully implement the vision of the Agenda 2030, and we renew our call for greater access to affordable finance.
Let us as a region reinforce our commitment to building more inclusive and sustainable economies that are resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change and other global challenges.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.