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Embassy of Fiji to Brussels, Belgium

"Pacific Voice Stronger than ever in Climate Negotiations"; COP23 Climate Envoy

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Ambassador Saran is pictured with leaders, ministers and other diplomats and officials from the Pacific, New Zealand and the United Kingdom at Wiston House in Sussex in the UK

16/12/18, Sussex, UK: The voice of vulnerable Pacific nations that are directly being impacted by climate change is gaining strong and political attention at the global level, says the Fijian Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, Ambassador Deo Saran.
 
Speaking at a climate conference in the United Kingdom centred on the impact of climate change on Pacific states, Ambassador Saran said that Fiji’s own presidency of the COP, the largest ongoing UN negotiations on climate change, has steered climate discussions towards realising the vulnerability of these States and placing this issue prominently on the global agenda.
 
“The Pacific island states are in a stronger position than ever with regard to the negotiations over climate change. Our voice is getting stronger, and our influence is growing. Built on recent years of hard work the very fact that a Pacific island nation, a Small Island Developing State and a climate-vulnerable state-held the presidency gave us all an opportunity we never had before. Finally, after 25 years, the Pacific islands were front and center. The risks we face were laid bare as never before. The focus on limiting warming to 1.5 degrees was unprecedented. The vital connection of ocean health and climate change was put into the spotlight”, Ambassador Saran said.
 
The event, organised by the Governments of New Zealand and the United Kingdom and the Pacific Islands Forum, was an opportunity to raise global awareness of the impacts of climate change in the Pacific, highlighting Pacific priorities. It also captured a range of perspectives to drive a wider global debate that is textured and informed by Pacific experiences. Here, Ambassador Saran highlighted that despite the impacts of climate change in the Pacific region, Pacific nations are stepping up their own efforts to address these impacts.
 
“We were not just victims; we were proposing solutions and demanding action, and the world was listening. The spotlight was on us, and we embraced it boldly and eagerly. The Marshall Islands took leadership in the Climate Vulnerable Forum and stepped forward early to commit to a more ambitious NDC. Fiji followed suit. We have both launched 2050 strategies for net zero emission economies and said to the world “if we can do it, so can you.” All of us were active and positively engaged in every step of this process, and we should all be very proud. As I said, we must always do more, prove ourselves more. But that is also the price of leadership.”
 
“As President of COP23 our role was to build consensus and move the process of turning the Paris Agreement into action forward. We could not be aggressive advocates of any position in the process and remain faithful to that mission, but we could speak out and build coalitions in support. And we could use a Pacific tradition-Talanoa to create an environment in which we could seek solutions together rather than engage in zero-sum negotiations.”
 
Sharing perspectives on the outcome of COP24, Ambassador Saran said that Fiji appreciates that substantial progress has been made in different key areas including climate finance.

He added that the outcome of COP24 has also given full recognition “to the need for the enhanced ambition of developing countries to be enabled through the urgently scaled-up provision of finance, technology and capacity-building support by developed countries, while also continuing work on the raising of ambition before 2020.”

This event Forum brought together approximately 60 senior Pacific and international leaders, diplomats, policy makers, experts, practitioners, academics and civil society representatives from the Pacific Islands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

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 Ambassador Saran addressing participants in the UK



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Several members of Public Accounts Committee of the Fijian Parliament visiting Wellington this week took advantage of a visit to the Wellington City Council’s Southern Landfill yesterday to glean a few ideas for waste management in Fiji. This included the Hon. Alexander O’Connor, Assistant Minister for Health, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, Opposition parliamentarian and Ms. Priya Chand, Parliamentary Secretary who were accompanied by the Fiji High Commission New Zealand staff.

The Southern landfill is an impressive setup particularly as it focuses on recycling and minimising the damage to the environment at the landfill.

 

Other remarkable features of the landfill were its gas collection, electricity regeneration, green waste mulching and water table management. The Hon. O’Connor, an engineer by profession, was particularly impressed and intends to develop a few ideas for the Fijian Government to consider.

 

The PAC members were invited to attend the Pacific PAC training seminar in Wellington facilitated by UNDP from the 12th to the 13th December.

The PAC members, including Deputy Chair, Hon. Mohammed Dean, MP, were hosted to afternoon tea at the Fiji Chancery.  It was an opportunity for the Parliamentarians to meet the Locally Engaged Staff at the Mission and also update the staff on the work and concerns of the Public Accounts Committee.

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