8th December 2011, Durban, South Africa: Fiji this afternoon reminded the High Level Session of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol that has been meeting in Durban, South Africa from 28th November to 9th December 2011 of the enormous responsibility that they have in terms of the future direction of Climate Change development for the world.
The Head of the Fiji Delegation and Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment Colonel Samuela Saumatua joined over 161 world leaders and leaders of NGO’ in addressing COP17 with a far reaching and sobering reminder that the decisions they make this week will have a direct bearing on the physical existence of some nations of the world. (Copy of Minister’s address below).
Later in the day Minister Saumatua was chosen to be part of a group of Ministers from the Alliance of Small Island Development States (AOSIS) to speak with the media.
In the evening the Minister was again invited to officiate at the Handover ceremony of the Chairmanship of AOSIS from Ambassador Williams of Grenada to Ambassador Moses of Nauru on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States.
Meanwhile in other events during the day the Fiji Delegation also engaged other organisations present at COP17 to explore areas of cooperation. These exploratory talks will continue the rest of the week.
The Fiji Delegation to COP17 is led by the Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, Mrs. Taina Tagicakibau and includes Ambassador Peceli Vocea Fiji’s Ambassador to the EU, Fiji’s High Commissioner to South Africa Mr. Ben Salacakau, the Acting Deputy Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation Mr. Penijamini Lomaloma, Deputy Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN Mr. Luke Daunivalu, Director Environment Mr. Jope Davetanivalu, Director Meteorology Mr. Alipate Waqaicelua, Deputy Conservator of Forests Mr. Samuela Lagataki, Dr Helena des Combes of USP, Lami Town Council CEO Ms. Preeya Ieli, Ms. Alisi Pulini Climate Change Officer Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, Mr. Peter Emberson of the Pacific Council of Church’s.
(Photo caption 1:Minister Saumatua speaking at COP17, Caption 2:Minister Saumatua handing over gift to AOSIS outgoing Chair Ambassador Williams.)
Republic of Fiji
HIGH LEVEL SEGMENTCOP17 UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE
STATEMENT BY H.E. MR SAMUELA SAUMATUA, MINISTER FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT, URBAN DEVELOPMENT, HOUSING AND ENVIRONMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF FIJI7 December, 2011Durban, South Africa___________________
At the outset Madam President, and on behalf of the President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, I wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Government of the Republic of South Africa for the warm hospitality extended to our delegation at this conference. We stand firmly with you in the cause of achieving a successful outcome here in Durban.
To begin, I would like to assert that the Fiji Government aligns itself with the statements delivered by the President of Nauru on behalf of the Pacific SIDS and by the Foreign Affairs Minister of Grenada on behalf of AOSIS, who have clearly elaborated the challenges and realities endured by small island states.
Madam President, COP17 provides us with another opportunity to make far reaching pivotal decisions in the history of climate change negotiations. While every COP is an opportunity to make steady progress, Durban presents us with a unique chance to renew faith in the multilateral process. This will provide hope to the peoples and nations affected most by the adverse impacts of climate change.
The decisions we make at this session will decide our future. The physical existence of some of our island states is at stake. Time is definitely not on our side.
The recent report released by the International Energy Agency reveals an alarming finding which says that we are at the edge of no return for staying under 2 degrees temperature rise. For small island states, like Fiji this is unacceptable. Our situation is dire. We should not allow it to worsen. We know the problems. In Fiji, as in other small island states, we are facing them everyday. We all know the solutions, yet they are not entirely in our hands. To ensure our survival, we need to work together within our respective capacities and arrive at a decision before we depart from Durban. We therefore call on all Parties to take responsibility for their actions. We must demonstrate political courage to deliver on the solutions.
Our delegation arrived with expectations to find solutions to the following:
First, on the long-term global goal, we need to be absolutely clear that the review of the long-term global goal should not affect mitigation ambition levels.
Secondly, on the Kyoto Protocol, Fiji needs certainty that there will be a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. This has to be accompanied by enhanced rules to strengthen environmental integrity. This course is crucial to save our planet. We cannot afford to have a gap in the rules regime that governs our efforts to address climate change.
Thirdly, it is imperative that we finalise a mandate for a legally binding instrument that complements the legally binding nature of the Kyoto Protocol.
On the Cancun instruments, we call for the urgent and sustainable capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund. We must adopt the report of the Transitional Committee and its governing instrument so that it is operational by 2012. We must work together to identify and mobilise long-term sources of climate finance to complement what is already available via fast track finance. Moreover, we need to have in place a mechanism to address loss and damage caused to vulnerable countries as a result of the adverse impacts of climate change.
Finally, on REDD Plus, we need to move swiftly to implement what had been agreed up to Cancun. We therefore call for the establishment of a market-based mechanism as soon as possible.
To conclude Madam President, as we stand on the eve of the Rio+20 conference in Brazil next year, I call to mind the ethical and moral commitment we made 20 years ago to protect the environment. We pledged then to engage in development practices that would not jeopardise the needs of future generations.
It is alarmingly apparent that more needs to be done to achieve that objective.
We have the opportunity here in Durban to make ambitious commitments that will avert the dangers of the run-away impacts of climate change.
I urge us to take this opportunity to make the right decisions now. Some of us in this room can ill afford to let it slip. So let's stop talking. Let's decide and deliver.
I thank you.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji