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Honourable J.V. Bainimarama, CF(Mil),OSt.J, MSD, jssc, psc

Prime Minister of Fiji and Minister for Foreign Affairs, iTaukei Affairs and Sugar Industry  


Remarks when presenting the Champion of Change Award at World Oceans Festival

Governor’s Island, NY   Sun June 4 2017



I’m delighted to be making a repeat visit to New York and also to Governor’s Island, where I came for a training course with the US Coastguard when I was in the Fijian Navy back in 1981.

36 years on, this place is full of memories for me. And I also want to say how much I value the great friendship between America and Fiji and especially the great friendship between Fijians and New Yorkers.

We have a great deal in common as people who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change – not only rising sea levels but extreme weather events that have cost the lives of our loved ones, along with a great deal of economic pain.

You had Hurricane Sandy in 2012. We had Cyclone Winston last year. And it has bound us together as a people - Fijians and New Yorkers - in our determination to work with the rest of the world to tackle the threat of climate change.

As incoming President of COP23 and also cohost of the UN Oceans Conference this week, I especially want to thank the Mayor and people of New York for standing shoulder to shoulder with us on this issue. Because it affects every person on earth, just as the health of our oceans and seas is critical to every human being and is why we are all gathered here today.

I’m also delighted to present this important award to someone who shares my passion and emotional attachment to the health of our oceans.

He is a scientist, a marine biologist, an explorer and author of the bestselling book: “Blue Mind; The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Underwater Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected and Better at What You Do”.

I couldn't agree more with this distinguished campaigner or the title of his wonderful book. So I ask you all to put your hands together in warm congratulations for Dr. Wallace J. Nichols.

As we say in Fiji, vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.




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